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Mind Up at Lingfield Primary School
We are very excited to introduce Mind Up at Lingfield Primary School this term. It is going to have a huge, positive impact on how we learn, how we face challenges and how we become more resilient and reflective learners. Mind Up is a rigorous, science-based, whole-school approach to mindfulness and emotional wellbeing which underpins the PSHE curriculum. Mind Up helps us understand how our brains work, why they deal with situations in certain ways and, crucially, how we can begin to modify our responses.
Mind Up is part of the Goldie Hawn Foundation and has been adopted by schools across the world. Mind Up naturally fits into our philosophy at Lingfield Primary School as a Personal Best School and our core values of respect, resilience and relationships. Mind up deals head-on with issues like stress, anxiety, aggression and depression in a completely non-judgemental manner whilst placing emphasis on the power of the individual to develop a positive, growth mindset in a supportive environment.
The best way to learn more about Mind Up is to go directly to their website: https://mindup.org/
Mind Up at Lingfield Primary School - Booklet
The activities and ideas in this booklet complement the learning of the MindUP programme that is happening at Lingfield Primary School and will enable you to support your child further in becoming a mindful and successful learner for life.
The MindUP programme is split into 4 units of work:
Unit 1 – Getting Focussed - this term in school
Unit 2 – Sharpening your senses
Unit 3 – It’s all about attitude
Unit 4 – Taking action mindfully
This little handbook will give you tips and ideas of how best to support your child within Unit 1. We hope you will find it useful! The children at Lingfield Primary School are learning about the brain this term and how their brain works. Unit 1 is the focus for this term.
This unit is broken down into 3 lessons:
Lesson 1 – How Our Brains Work
Lesson 2 – Mindful Awareness
Lesson 3 – Focused Awareness: TheBrain Break
How Our Brains Work
As a parent, understanding the links between the brain and behaviour can be enlightening. We can see our children’s behaviour more objectively when we are able to put it into a biological context. An understanding of your child’s developing brain can help to lower your parental frustration and increase the effectiveness of your responses. Learning a few key facts about the brain can optimize our ability to help our children navigate childhood and become successful adults. In the MindUP curriculum, children learn about three main parts of the brain: the Amygdala, the Pre-frontal Cortex (PFC), the Hippocampus, and (later in the term) the fourth part: the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Children of all ages love learning interesting facts about their brain. It is powerful for children to begin learning about their brain because it allows them to actively seek the optimal state for learning and being.
MindUP helps children understand how their brain works in an age-appropriate way. Using the analogy examples below, we create our own analogy for the functions of the different parts of the brain:
Part of the brain and the animal analogy
The wise owl
The intelligent elephant
The loyal guard dog
Family Activity Ideas – Conquering the Amygdala Hijack
Help young children identify what they are feeling and how to describe it. Very often, behaviour difficulties (amygdala hijacks) are a result of a young child not having the words to describe what they are feeling and being overwhelmed. Practice by acting out faces and guessing each other’s feelings so that children become more familiar with different expressions.
Settle your glitter!
Take a small plastic jar/bottle with a screw-on lid and fill it almost to the top with water. Add 1 tablespoon of glitter glue and 1 tablespoon of fine glitter. Screw the lid on tight and shake!
Talk with your child about how the jar is like your brain. Notice how hard it is to see clearly when the glitter is spinning. Compare it to when the amygdala is in charge and it’s hard to think clearly and make good decisions. When the glitter has settled, compare it to what it’s
like when the amygdala is calm and you can access your prefrontal cortex (PFC) and make good decisions.
Have your child get familiar with things they can do to counter negative emotions. Some ideas might be exercise, deep breathing, writing feelings down, spending time with friends or family.
Mindful Awareness – The Brain Break
Mindful awareness through focused attention is a valuable skill for both children and caregivers to learn and master. Children and adults who learn that mindful breathing helps to calm them down, which in turn allows them to think more clearly and act in a reflective manner, will be better able to regulate their emotions, reduce stress, and make better decisions. In school, children have 3 core practice Brain Breaks a day.
Learn how to take a Brain Break!
1) Sit up tall, eyes down turned or closed
2) Listen for the chime (if using one)
3) Inhale through your nose and out your mouth
4) Fill the lungs fully, extending the breath to your abdomen
5) Focus your attention on your breath (this could be as little as 3 breaths!) 6) Notice thoughts, return your attention to your breath
7) Listen for the chime a second time, and follow the resonant sound as long as you can
Family Activity Ideas – Teaching about the breath
Have your child lie down on the floor and have a bean bag/soft toy on their stomach. Instruct them to quietly watch the object rise and fall with their breath.
Blow bubbles together and watch them fall to the ground.
Use pinwheels to practice using your breath making them go fast or slow.
Use the ‘smell the flowers, blow out the candle’ image to help children develop the skill of focussing attention through breathing.
Use a focussing tool like a glitter wand or liquid timer to help your child practice mindful breathing,
Cotton ball activity
Each person has a cotton ball.
Practice 1) blowing it past an object
Practice 2) blowing it to hit a target
Practice 3) practicing a gentle breath to push the cotton ball from the middle of the palm of the hand to the fingertips without letting it fall.
Further Reading/Resources - Why we do this at Lingfield Primary School
You Tube: Fight Flight Freeze – Anxiety Explained For Teens
Why we have anxiety; why the amygdala behaves as it does.
You Tube Clip: “Every Opportunity” by the Atlanta Speech School
The difference we can make to a child's day - the power of positivity
You Tube Clip: “The Happy Secret to Better Work” TED talk by Shawn Achor
Positive Psychology and what it does
You Tube Clip: “Neuroplasticity” by Sentis
The brain is not set - we can train the brain!
You Tube clip: Rewiring the Anxious Brain - Neuroplasticity and the Anxiety Cycle Very interesting, how to help deal with anxiety
Further Reading/Resources - The Brain
The new Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck
Children aged 4-6
A Walk in the Rain with a Brain, Edward Hallowell
Children aged 7-11
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, JoAnn Deak
How does your brain work? Don Curry
Further Reading/Resources - Routes to Mindfulness
Parenting from the Inside Out, Dan Siegal and Mary Hartzell
Children aged 4-6
Peaceful Piggy Meditation, Kerry Lee
Cosmic Yoga, YouTube
Children aged 7-11Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), Eline Snell