One Week to Go! Workshop Offerings for Budding Brains

We are officially down to the final days before our Budding Brains Mini-Conference. All registrations include a FREE copy of the Rosie’s Brain storybook by Linda Ryden, and a FREE Brain Anchor chart designed by the Peace of Mind team for teaching neuroscience to children. Just a few spaces are left –  register today at Eventbrite. 

In addition to our fabulous Neuroscientist keynote speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, workshops at the conference will be offered by Linda. Liz, Janine, and Jillian. Read below for descriptions of their informative breakout sessions:

Teaching Mindfulness & Neuroscience to Early Childhood Students with Jillian Diesner, Ed.S., LPC – Participants will walk through several lessons from the Peace of Mind Early Childhood Curriculum with the author, using the Brain Anchor Chart, Brainy the Hand Puppet, and original scripts to help young children understand what is happening inside their brains.

Teaching Mindfulness & Neuroscience to Upper Elementary Students with Linda Ryden, Peace of Mind Founder – Participants will walk through several lessons from the Peace of Mind 3-5th grades Curriculum with the author, using the Rosie’s Brain storybook and original skits to help older children understand what is happening inside their brains.

Establishing a Personal Mindfulness Practice (for beginners!) with Janine Rudder, MA – In this interactive workshop participants will explore mindfulness principles and how they can be applied to developing a beginning mindfulness practice.

Establishing a Group Mindfulness Practice (for those who’d like to expand their own practice), with Liz Whisnant, Principal – Interested in establishing or strengthening a mindful learning practice across your school community? Join the principal of Mann ES, which began its journey a few years ago, to learn about possible models, entry points and levers for success. Participants will brainstorm positive scenarios for action in their own school communities, including pushing mindfully through obstacles in the path.

Special thanks to our sponsors for this event:

Neuroscience For the New Year

Happy New Year! We are busy preparing for our upcoming conference on teaching neuroscience to children. Sound like too complex a topic to be introducing to children as young as four? Well, we know the brain is a highly sophisticated organ, but we believe it is so important to have a basic knowledge of what it does that we make it a cornerstone of our work with children. Not only is mindfulness based on brain science, conflict resolution becomes a much easier task when children understand what’s going on in their brains. How do we know this? Because we’ve seen it in action, over and over, during the past decade of working with our students during Peace Class!

For our first-ever mini-conference, we’ve decided to focus on this topic in order to help other educators and parents bring this information to the children they care about. Not only will we hear from a local neuroscientist on the latest research in the field, we will also have breakout sessions for learning more about  HOW we teach this complex subject matter to elementary-aged children. For the New Year, resolve to bring this important information to your students. Reserve your spot today at Eventbrite! 

Thank you to our generous sponsors:

Gratitude & the Negativity Bias

The past few weeks in Peace Class we have been digging deeper into gratitude. We have also been learning about the brain’s Negativity Bias – the tendency of our brains to focus on and remember bad things and to let good things slide out. Our brains have evolved to do this in order to keep us safe.  If we touch a cactus and hurt ourselves once our brains will remember that and we won’t do it again. That’s great! Unfortunately our brains can’t tell the difference between something that is truly dangerous and something that is simply unpleasant – like being embarrassed. We can help override this Negativity Bias by making a point of noticing all of the big and little good things in our day-to-day lives.

To practice this, we got out cups and marbles and worked with our Kindness Pals.  We labeled one cup “good” and one cup “bad” and we told our Kindness Pal everything we could remember about the day so far. As one person talked,  the other put marbles in the good side or the bad side.  When we were done most of the kids were completely surprised by all of the good things that happened that they had barely noticed: things like waking up in a warm bed, having breakfast, having someone to bring you to school. getting to play with friends before school, reading a great book in library, having Peace Class, learning a new song in Music Class and so on.  This practice can become a habit that can make us much happier and healthier in the long run.  It’s so important not to let our Negativity Bias be in charge and to really stop and notice all of the little good things that make up our lives.  Try it with your kids and see which one of your marble cups is more full!

-Linda & the Peace of Mind team

Black Children Are Not Historical Figures: The Importance of Representation in Children’s Books.

I am a public school teacher in Washington, DC. A few years ago I wanted to teach a lesson about brain science for my young students.  To my surprise, I couldn’t find a single children’s storybook that told the story I wanted to tell, and there were certainly no books on the topic that reflected the diversity of the children in my classroom.

So I wrote, illustrated and published the book I needed myself.   When it came to creating the characters in the story all I had to do was look out at my students.  My students are a diverse mix representing cultures from all over the world from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan to Ethiopia to Denmark from Guatemala to Iceland, as well as many kids both black and white born right here in DC. 

I decided to choose students that I don’t normally see in children’s books.  Students like Yoab whose family is from Ethiopia, or Tyaja whose family is from DC, or Sergio whose family is from El Salvador and Guatemala.  In DC our schools are filled with young black and brown children – in fact 78% of children in DC are children of color. But our school bookshelves don’t reflect that reality.

Continue reading

Armed with Love

All of the talk lately about school shootings and arming teachers reminded me of one of my heroes.  Antoinette Tuff was the school bookkeeper in DeKalb County Georgia who in 2013 single-handedly prevented a school shooting by disarming the potential gunman.  Did she have a weapon? No.  But she was armed with calm, kindness, and compassion.  These crucial social and emotional skills helped her to save the lives of countless children and their teachers.  

As the full-time Peace Teacher at my school teaching more than five hundred kids every week I see a big part of my role as triage. I do my best to look out for the lonely, angry ones, the ones who always seem to be alone, the ones who aren’t connecting with the other kids. I don’t know anything about their reading or math skills. There are other wonderful teachers to take care of that. All I’m concerned with is their hearts and happiness. I’m lucky to work with an amazing SEL team who can take it from there and dig in and help. Why are schools spending more and more money on guards and staff whose sole purpose is to break up fights and discipline kids? Why doesn’t every school have a Peace teacher? Why isn’t this the most urgent need? Continue reading