We are proud to share this guest post by Erica Martinez, MSW, who brings her expertise in mindfulness activities for kids and self-care from Lighthouse Public Schools to share timely, at-home learning activities for families.
As we begin to put this school year behind us, let us take a look at what we have been through in the past fourteen months. A highly contagious virus overtook the world in a matter of months causing us to drastically change our lives. Our children’s spring breaks were extended by a week, then another, then another, ultimately finishing the 2020 school year off from home. Parents were now embracing their new role as a faux teacher, while many were juggling their student’s online learning and working from home. In San Antonio, the number of Covid-19 positive cases rose and dipped like a roller coaster. Sadly, many of us lost loved ones and were fearful of the uncertain possibilities of what could happen if we contradicted Covid-19. Within the coming months, the Covid-19 vaccines began to roll out and individuals began to roll up their sleeves. As of today, certain vaccines are eligible for children ages 12 and older.
Whew!! What an emotional ride we have been on! Now to add to all of this, parents are starting to hear about “the summer slide” PLUS “the Covid slide.” Our hearts are racing as we read news article after news article talking about how far behind our children are going to be, academically speaking. I respect our educators and totally understand the lens they are coming from, but I’m coming to you from the social work lens, the lens of focusing on strengths and incorporating a mindfulness activity. Stay in the moment and acknowledge that we have all been doing our best to stay safe and healthy. Give yourself a high five for that and trust that if you can make it through a pandemic, you and your child can make it through the summer/covid slide.
Mindfulness Activities to Reinforce Strengths
So, what does it mean to focus on strengths and incorporate a mindfulness activity and what in the world is mindfulness? Well, what It means is that you are going to identify and acknowledge something that your child does well and continue to reinforce that strength. If you are a parent, reading this post, then I can guarantee that you care about the academic and emotional well-being of your child. So, thank you so much for taking a moment to read this blog post! In fact, there are even more posts like this in the Charter a Voyage of Learning guide.
Now can you think of a strength that your child has? This could be that they are a good friend, they have a nurturing spirit, they can paint, skate, play guitar, get dressed all by themselves, or do all the cool dance moves from that popular video game. Now, reinforce that strength by acknowledging and/or thanking your child for it. While you’re at it, identify some of your own strengths or ask your kiddo what they think is your strength.
Now speaking of mindfulness—this is another buzzword that we keep hearing about, but what is it? Simply stated, mindfulness, is being aware of and focused on your senses in the present moment. Keep reading below for some mindfulness activities you can do with your children.
Mindfulness Activities for Kids by Age
Meditation for Preschoolers
For young children, introduce this activity by watching the Sesame Street video, Sesame Street Monster Meditation #1: I- Sense with Cookie Monster and Headspace. Have a family conversation and talk about what mindfulness is, what was each person’s favorite activity from the video and what each person would like to start doing at home. Together, go through the I-Sense activity from the video.
Take Magic Breaths with Grade Schoolers
For children in middle grades, talk about mindfulness. Watch the read aloud of My Magic Breath. Have a family conversation about how it felt to take some magic breaths.
Did anyone notice any changes in their thoughts, their feelings or with the pace of their heart beats? Did anyone notice if they opened any closed fists during their magic breaths? Try some magic breathings again, this time, being mindful of your body’s physical response.
Make a Glitter Jar with Teens
For teens, build on their knowledge of mindfulness. Talk to them about stress and areas in their lives where they may be feeling stress. Make a glitter jar together! A quick glitter jar can be made with warm water, clear glue and glitter. Let them pick the colors and types of glitter they want in their jar.
Once the jar is done, give it a good shaky shake!. Watch the glitter and it moves around in the water. Notice how it reflects the light and flips and flops down from the top to the bottom of the jar. Did you put in any special shapes into your jar? Did you find them? Take note of any changes in your and your child’s mood and actions. Talk about these responses. This article does a great job of describing how to use the jar to have conversations with your child.
I hope these activities will inspire you and your family to overcome your worries about summer slide and Covid slide, and explore mindfulness together. Find more learning activities in our Charter a Voyage of Learning guide.
More Mindfulness Activities for Kids at Lighthouse Public Schools
At our school, Lighthouse Public Schools, students and faculty have the opportunity to create a mindfulness jar. We keep them on the windowsill in the Engagement Office at our school and can be accessed anytime someone needs a mindfulness break. Our overall mission is to educate the hearts and minds of our scholars. We are firm believers that the social and emotional needs of students must be met first before learning can take place. Come back to our site for updated information about learning resources.
Mindfulness Activities for Kids on Charter Moms Chats
Watch Erica Martinez, MSW talk about mindfulness activities from Lighthouse Public Schools with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on June 3, 2020 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Erica Martinez is a master-level social worker, currently working on a Ph.D. in social work, who brings her expertise to Lighthouse Public Schools. She is so excited about eating in restaurants again with friends that her heart grows two sizes with each lunch date invite.
Read More About Mindfulness and Self-Care
- “Mindfulness for Kids,” Mindful
- “Strength-Based Parenting: Is It The Right Approach For Your Family?”, FamilyEducation, March 2, 2021
- “Family Self-Care Plan,” Erica Martinez, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 19, 2021
- “11 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids,” Amy Morin, Verywell Family, December 30, 2020
- “Guide to Enrolling at Lighthouse Public Schools for 2021–2022,” San Antonio Charter Moms, December 8, 2020
- “How to Be a Strength-Based Parent for Kids with Learning Differences,” Lea Waters, Greater Good Magazine, October 16, 2019
- “How to Create a Glitter Jar for Kids,” Christopher Willard, Mindful, May 30, 2019