“I am calm, I am focused, I am ready to learn.” Is it just me, or is that the kind of self-talk you fantasize going thru your kid’s mind all day? Well, as they say, dreams can come true. Today’s children can claim a new educational reality for themselves and teachers can put away their proverbial “genie lamps”. In fact, science has proven that emotionally-regulated, socially-empathic and instructionally-focused students could be just a belly breath away. Welcome to Present Time Kids™!
Present Time Kids™ is a cutting-edge, science-based program that brings teaching social and emotional tenets within reach. It is based on two fundamental foundations: Neuroscience and Mindfulness. The study of neurological processes in the education arena has exploded! Just check out the latest “Time Magazine” cover next time you are in the grocery store line. We know that through neuroplasticity, children can rewire their neural pathways for calmness, focus and engaged learning. And, with mindfulness, children learn to release the worries from yesterday, patiently await the unfolding of tomorrow AND be 100% present in what is directly before them: in and out of school.
So, just how does Present Time Kids™ work? Easy. Five simple steps, five minutes at a time, five days a week (or more!).
- One Idea: Be present
- Two Tools: Present Body & Present Listening
- Three Suggestions: I am calm, I am focused, I am ready to learn
- Four Exercises: Cross Connect, Pause Buttons, Belly Breathing, Mindful Minute
- Five Minutes: To change your life
Present Body. A Present Body is a still quiet, body. Students use the image of a strong tree when they mindfully move into Present Body. This simple prompt immediately ignites the circuitry between the mind and body. The body’s still, quiet form sends a powerful message to the child’s brain to calmly engage in the present moment.
Present Listening. Present Listening is listening on purpose from the beginning to the end. When students use Present Listening, they use more than their physical ears. They use their minds, eyes, ears, and hearts. When they practice Present Listening, children think about what is being said, focus attention with their eyes and ears and show respect by empathically “listening” with their hearts.
Cross Connect. This contralateral exercise integrates the left and right brain hemispheres, creating whole brain capacity. Learning is better enabled and the nervous system becomes balanced. The speech and language centers in the brain are strengthened, thus empowering reading and writing tasks in school. Additionally, coordination and balance are improved.
Pause Buttons. Pause Buttons are neurovascular points that are activated to bring fresh blood to the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) of the brain. The PFC is responsible for our “executive functions” such as decision making, problem solving, and emotional regulation. This exercise encourages the brain to slow down the fight or flight response in the body in the face of daily stressors and instead, conditions the amygdala, our brain’s stress center, to stay calm. It also encourages greater focus.
Belly Breathing. Belly Breathing engages the largest nerve in our body, the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is rooted in the abdominal area and travels up through all our visceral (open) organs, ending in the brain. The vagus nerve is part of our parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that stimulates the relax and renew response. Students learn that daily belly breathing has a cumulative effect on the body, and over time, students will inherently have better emotional regulation and less anxiety.
Mindful Minute. Mindful Minute is a time to give thoughts a break by practicing the skill of reacting less to distractions. Mindfulness practice is paying attention, on purpose, to what is happening right now (the present moment). Mindfulness helps increase attention/focus, self-control and empathy. By practicing Mindful Minute, children experience a wealth of physical health benefits too. Over the last several years, practices like Mindful Minute have become a revolution and new scientific studies come out almost weekly proving the emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits.
You can change your life. Forever. This is the promise Present Time Kids™ leaves with children. Recently, this truism became most poignant when a seasoned third-grade teacher incredulously questioned how we were able to instantly calm his rambunctious group of 25 students with the utterance of a seemingly benign phrase, “Present Bodies, please.” It was clear that each of these children felt confident in their newfound ability to self-regulate. No genie lamp required. That’s real life neuroplasticity at work, folks! Mindfulness and neuroscience have moved beyond the cover of popular magazines and found their way into our children’s classrooms and hearts.
©2016, Present Time Kids™