Monday, February 23, 2009

Meditation Monday: The Relaxation Station

Let's face it; kids today are running on overload! From afterschool activities, homework, and family obligations to spending lots of free time looking at computer screens and video game monitors, kids today are overstimulated. Many do not have the ability to sit still and do "nothing". But these same kids are craving stillness! They want to experience it and understand that once they know how to access a quieter mind, it's there for them whenever they may need it.

In my Kindergarten classroom, students learn breathing and relaxation techniques and are encouraged to take a break in the Relaxation Station whenever they feel they need it. At first, they take every opportunity to visit, experimenting with the new freedom, but later they tend to only use it when they are experiencing tiredness or high emotion. The Relaxation Station can be easily created using a soft rug, a few big pillows and one or two focal points such as a simple picture of a flower on the wall or of an animal resting. Adults can model sitting quietly or laying down with a blanket breathing deeply for a few moments before returning to their regular activities. Having such a spot can empower children to identify when they need a break.

Deep breathing also empowers kids. When two children are having a conflict in the class, both are directed to take 5-10 "balloon" breaths before attempting to discuss the problem. In my experience, 9 times out of 10 they forget their problem by the time they finish the breaths, or at least are able to communicate about the problem more easily.

Balloon Breath:

1. Place your hands over your chest, where the lungs are.
2. Close your eyes and imagine a colorful balloon inside you.
3. Breathe in through your nose and imagine the breath filling the balloon. Feel the lungs filling with fresh air and oxygen.
4. Exhale through the nose and release the breath. Allow it to float away.
5. Repeat a few times. (1-3 times for younger children, a few more for older children)
6. Open your eyes and describe the color of your balloon. How do you feel?

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Raise Bilingual Children?

Here is an interesting article from Spanglish Baby concerning the choice to raise kids with more than one home language. I found it to be a nice introduction to the topic! According to the Multilingual Children's Association, there are two main home language systems to use.

In our case, the One Person, One Language system (OPOL) will fit better than the Minority Language at Home system (ML@H) since I will use the minority language exclusively. One concern I had was being able to read stories and sing songs in English with my baby. I also worry about my husband feeling excluded since he does not speak the second language (in our case, Spanish). After talking to several friends who are raising their kids with more than one language, we've decided that when we are spending time together as a family, the family language will remain English, but the child's exposure to the minority language will be mostly when he and I are one on one. I do have hopes that we will spread the use of the minority language a little more as other family members (including my husband) become more familiar with it. The grandparents have a good working knowledge of the minority language and though they will probably be most comfortable using English, they may enjoy reading, singing or including some Spanish vocabulary at times. Some people think this may confuse an early language learner, but it can be beneficial for the child to hear the minority language from more than one person. Visit the Multilingual Children's Association homepage for more twists on choosing the right home language system for your family!

It Can’t Hurt I never really questioned whether or not Vanessa would grow up bilingual. As far as I knew, we would talk to her...

Welcome to Piñata!

A piñata is bright and colorful and full of surprises! Here at Piñata you will find plenty of tidbits and links to parenting resources on the web. The focus of Piñata is to share fresh ideas about raising healthy, well-rounded kids. Topics of interests include green parenting, raising bilingual kids, trends in early childhood education, children's literature as well as development of the spiritual side of your child. I have been blogging personally since 2005 and am drawn to this medium as a professional educator and amateur writer. After teaching Kindergarten through 2nd grade since 1996, I am currently six months pregnant with my first child. I am also a certified yoga instructor and had a childrens' yoga business in South Florida from 2002-2005 before relocating to Southern California. I am bilingual; having learned Spanish as a second language while spending a year living in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia as an exchange student. My husband and I are planning to raise our son to be bilingual as well.

I can't wait to hear some of your stories and specific areas of interest as we set out to find the treasures in the piñata!

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