3-Part Series to Help Kids Succeed at School
With a new school year upon us, I thought it’d be helpful to layout a three part series filled with tips and strategies to help ease everyone back into the school year. In my area, kids have just started back to school or they will be starting back in the next few weeks. As we all know, a regular school year is a big transition in itself, but in the midst of this pandemic, where everything feels uncertain there is definitely more anxiety all around—for everyone involved—teachers, school staff, students, parents and caregivers. And so, whether school is happening virtually or in person, I wanted to share three tips to ease anxiety. Of course these tips are helpful for children, however you will see that these tips ultimately benefit the whole village of support it takes to transition our kids into a new school year — school professionals, parents and caregivers.
Tip #1 -Tune Into Body Signals
If you’re familiar with my work on interoception, the eighth sense, then you know how important it is to tune into our internal body signals. A growling stomach or a racing heart or tense muscles or a distracted brain can provide very important clues to our emotions. And so, by helping our children become more aware of exactly how their bodies are feeling, will ultimately help them gain a better understanding of their emotions. And ultimately this will lead to the ability to self-regulate their emotions in a more successful way. Who doesn’t want that?
Strategy: Stop, Tune In & Identify
One of the strategies that my family and I like to do is, we like to pick one body part a week and we really focus on how that body part feels during daily activities. For example, this week, my family and I were working on noticing how our head or brain feels. We will quickly stop what we are doing and tune into our head or brain and identify the feelings we notice in that moment. It is fun for each of us to share how our brain or head is feeling, because it is often different for each of us. We always highlight these differences and emphasize the fact that there are no right or wrong interoception experiences.
If you’re a teacher, you could do a quick body part check-in with your entire class. Have the class take a moment to stop and tune into a certain body part like their brain or eyes or mouth and identify how that specific body part feels. Point out the importance of tuning into their bodies and noticing the important emotion clues that the body provides.
As a parent, I’ll ask my daughter when she’s going to bed or playing a game or doing a homework assignment, ‘how does your brain feel right now?’ And she has to really tune in to her brain and figure out how it’s feeling. You can do this exercise casually or you can use the Body Check Ring as a resource to make this exercise a little bit more structured. Our Body Check Ring has 15 different body part cards as well as a corresponding menu of different words to help one describe how that body part feels.
So, in the instance of my family working on noticing how our brains feel, we’re using the brain menu. That way when my children check in with their brain and how it’s feeling, they have some words to help them right off that bat. For example, your brain can feel focused, your brain can feel distracted, your brain or your head can feel tight, it can feel loose, it can feel fast or slow. It can feel sore, like a headache, it can feel too much. I know personally speaking, my brain felt like ‘too much’ on the first day of school. As we’re trying to navigate this whole virtual back to school thing, my brain was feeling too much. Almost dizzy too.
Whether you do an informal tune-in with just words or use our Body Check Ring, the process is an invaluable tool to use in the classroom and at home.
TOOLS THAT KEEP GIVING
The beauty of our Body Check Ring is that in addition to providing a way to systematically guide learners through tuning into how their body feels, the Body Check Ring comes with a printable activity booklet that provides 5 bonus games/learning activities which are perfect to use in the classroom or at home… you can check it out here.
Stay tuned next month, when I share Tip #2 – How to Create a Feel-Good Menu and incorporate it into your classroom, home-schooling or family routine.
- Immediate access to the Body Check Ring Printable Cards: 15 full-color, double-sided cards
- Immediate access to the Body Check Ring Printable Activity Booklet: includes instructions on 5 additional bonus games/learning activities.
- Immediate access to the Body Check Ring Mini-Course: 45 minutes of explanation AND demonstration on how to use the Body Check Ring; watch Kelly using the Body Check Ring in action
“The Body Check Ring has been such a help to my son! He uses it to check-in with how his body feels during different times in the day. Sometimes finding words to describe what he is feeling can be hard, so the menu of words really helps him. He is now able to communicate valuable clues like when his head feels sore, his muscles feel tense or his stomach feels ‘growling’. Because of the Body Check Ring, we finally have a concrete way to identify how his body feels.
I also love that the 15 cards were very easy to download, print and put on a ring. We printed out a few copies of the cards and keep a set in the car and a set in our kitchen. We also gave a set to all of his teachers at school. My son likes that he can use the same familiar strategy in many different places. I strongly recommend the Body Check Ring as a very helpful interoception strategy!!”
– Patty, mother to a 11 year old child with autism and ADHD