Gifted and Talented

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Hello ALP Families,

Here at Rooney we strive to reach the whole child's needs and support them individually while helping them utilize their strengths to work on their own goals. Collaboration, high-level thinking, opportunities to lead and helping with social/emotional needs will enrich their daily experience in their education at Rooney. The teachers at Rooney Ranch look forward to working with you; we are a team!

Helping your child feel successful also includes teaching mindfulness strategies. Here are some helpful ways your child can identify calming techniques that can help them re-focus during high-stressful moments. As a family you can use many of these strategies, engaging in family conversations that model your own coping skills with stress. 
  • Mindfulness: see ideas below and as a family practice mindfulness

  • Healthy habits: Nutrition, sleep, exercise, positive affirmations/ positive thinking.

  • Start early with conversations about mindfulness and healthy habits

  • Always confer with your child’s teacher about any questions or concerns

  • Help shift your child’s thinking away from stressing about the test to recognizing the positives of reaching a goal, “give it your best!”

Teaching Mindfulness

Here are some engaging activities to try at home to help your child feel more successful with managing stress and practicing healthy thinking skills: 

First things first…

Establish your own practice. You would have trouble teaching your children ballet if you had never danced. To authentically teach mindfulness to your children, you need to practice it yourself.

The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our children is to give them skills to develop their awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to recognize their thoughts as “just thoughts,” to understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, to recognize when their attention has wandered, and to provide tools for impulse control.

Don’t force it. If your kids aren’t interested in your lesson or activity, drop it. This is a good time for you to practice non-attachment to outcomes!

10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

1. Keep it simple. Mindfulness is noticing our thoughts, what our body feels like, what our ears are hearing, and anything else that is around us and happening right now.

2. Listen to the bell. An easy way for children to practice mindfulness is to focus on paying attention to what they can hear. I’ve used a singing bowl, like the one on the right, for this exercise, but you could use a bell, a set of chimes, or a phone app that has sounds on it. Tell your children that you will make the sound, and they should listen carefully until they can no longer hear the sound (which is usually 30 seconds to a minute). I find that this exercise does have a calming effect on my children, and it’s a fun way to teach them to pay attention to their surroundings.

3. Create a mindful bedtime ritual. Bedtime is a great time to introduce mindfulness to kids. My daughter loves to do a short body-scan meditation before bed — she closes her eyes, and I tell her to bring her attention to her toes, to her feet, to her legs, etc. It is a calming way to return to the body at the end of the day.

4. Practice with a breathing buddy. For young children, an instruction to simply “pay attention to the breath” can be hard to follow. Daniel Goleman describes a 2nd-grade classroom that does a “breathing buddy” exercise: each student grabs a stuffed animal, and then lies down on their back with their buddy on their belly. They focus their attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as they breathe in and out.

5. Make your walks mindful. One of my children’s favorite things to do in the summer is a “noticing walk.” We stroll through our neighborhood and notice things we haven’t seen before. We’ll designate one minute of the walk where we are completely silent and simply pay attention to all the sounds we can hear — frogs, woodpeckers, a lawnmower. We don’t even call it “mindfulness,” but that’s what it is.

6. Establish a gratitude practice. I believe gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness, teaching our children to appreciate the abundance in their lives, as opposed to focusing on all the toys and goodies that they crave, each night at dinner we each share one thing we are thankful for.

7. Create a Memory Jar. With your family have everyone write down memories from the last 12 months, including family trips, fun weekends, moments where you spent time together as a family. Discuss details from the memories and how they felt, expressing why it was a special memory.

8. Meditate with your children.

9. Check your personal weather report. In Sitting Still Like a Frog, Eline Snel encourages children to “summon the weather report that best describes [their] feelings at the moment.” Sunny, rainy, stormy, calm, windy, tsunami? This activity allows children to observe their present state without overly identifying with their emotions. They can’t change the weather outside, and we can’t change our emotions or feelings either. All we can change is how we relate to them. As Snel describes it, children can recognize, “I am not the downpour, but I notice that it is raining; I am not a scaredy-cat, but I realize that sometimes I have this big scared feeling somewhere near my throat.”

10. Practice mindful eating. The exercise of mindfully eating a raisin or a piece of chocolate is a staple of mindfulness education, and is a great activity for kids.. This is a fun way to teach children to pay attention to and savor their food, and by extension, the present moment.

This month (November) we will focus on the social/emotional needs of your child. Here is a great slide presentation that provides tools with your child to name their feelings and work through their emotions. Some of these strategies Rooney Ranch teachers use on a daily basis with all children to help navigate through emotion.

Name It to Tame It

--Here are a few questions you can ask your child to engage conversation about their school day:

1. Ask them to identify their high and their low of the day. Parents sho
uld play along too to model and participate in this conversation as well.

2. Ask them to share with you their favorite moment where they worked with a peer during their school day.

3. Ask them to share a moment in their day when they felt challenged and how did they work through it.

4. Ask them what are two emotions that they felt today and what created those emotions.

5. Ask them to identify someone who they look up to during the day and explain why.

Here is a link to the District Gifted and Talented Page
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