“…the majority were better equipped to take responsibility for their behavior.”
Article by Cherry Sanford
“…the majority were better equipped to take responsibility for their behavior.”
Article by Cherry Sanford
Wellness Through Movement Mentorship January 2014-May 2014
BUILDING TOGETHER a WHOLE CHILD
MAHALO TO the TEAM
Parents; Principal Garcia; Counselor Rosemae Watterson; Sponsors: First Hawaiian Bank and Community Member and Teachers Mel Rufo, Merrilee Carpenter and Bindi Wiernicki; Interns and assistants Andy Russell and Cherry Sanford
KOHALA ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL, SCHOOL COUNSELOR AND PARENTS
Mahalo nui loa to parents of the WTM program for your attendance, correspondence, and outreach in the program. Rose Mae Watterson, School Counselor thank you for your care and support to keep the program going. We will miss you next year and say aloha in your new life of retirement. Nothing would have happened with out over reaching to new horizons for his school, mahalo Principal Danny Garcia, at Kohala Elementary School for all the extra hours and efforts put for to bring WTM into the Kohala Elementary school. Your efforts to reach into the families or your children and go the extra mile to help the research project come to your school will not be wasted. Parents are still corresponding to us about their process and research logistics are still developing with Vassar College.
FUNDERS and SPONSORS
▪ Private Community Members
▪ First Hawaiian Bank
▪ North Kohala Community Resource Center
▪ 21st Century Program
Mel Rufo (5th grade), Merrilee Carpenter and Bindi Wiernicki 1st grade
Thank you teachers who reached out to improve the wellbeing of their students and squeezing WTM into their schedules. And a special thanks to Bindi Wiernicki for opening up her room to us after school.
With children in WTM your efforts to be the best parents you can be shows in your child. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Carolyn Palmer at Vassar College, thank for traveling all the way from New York and for her enthusiasm in the program and research expertise.
F.I.S.H. (Feldenkrais In Schools Hui) members: Ed Mill, physicist and Feldenkrais Practitioner and Carolann Felldin keeping minutes and giving input for the year long of weekly conference calls brainstorming assessments for body-to-brain effects.
(A list of activities and achievements are at the end of this Blog.)
Wellness Through Movement that has never happened before like this winter at Kohala Elementary. Information from the body, the heart of the child, is getting buried and further out of reach but success was made. Teachers and parents are reporting health, vitality, and empathy may be declining as pressures increase and as a results more challenging behavior in children at younger ages. Challenging behaviors are become more extreme and at younger ages. Parents, Principal Garcia, Teachers (especially Mel Rufo), and community support is stepping in to help. Extreme behaviors are taking more time away from teachers being able to teach and the recognition that Education has to become a community effort is spreading wide.
A curious observation was how did the younger kids (kindergarten- 2 grades) remembered twice as much as the older kids (3rd -5th grades)? Younger children applied the tools and used their bodies get information about themselves. They were also more cooperative and compassionate with each other. Their bodies continued to improve in flexibility and organization weeks after the lesson. The older group of kids did not remember what we did. There is a lot of conflict between each other. The most alarming was how the older kids acted as if they were looking through a screen to their peers. They were removed or disconnected from each other differences.
How do we build cooperation and compassion? WTM works from sensory self-awareness literally feeling the physical-ness inside the body. The personal experience from physical sensations makes self-awareness, mind and body, undeniable. To become self-directive and inspire motivation we teach self-reflection …and most important compassion towards personal processes (as well as with others).
Education teaches a thought and reasoning process that parrots information only to be correct and not applicable to life skills. What is correct today may not be correct tomorrow, the year 2072 when our kindergartners are in their 60’s. Attention is trained to focus on approval “out there” and results are reactions are competitive thus conflictive between peers or the children give-up. The efforts for self-inquiry and collaboration are foreign concepts. Innovation scrabbled their minds.
The foreign feeling of looking inside, particular at their body’s reaction fuels a child’s curiosity. When someone feels the personal effects it catches interest. Though what used to take three weeks for all children to feel their bodies in WTM program this time it took almost three times as long (for the younger children) and four times as long (for the older children). When they did a few children did make profound changes.
To find themselves we turned the responsibility on them and asked, “You tell us how could you feel your selves (touching the floor in a lying position)?” After joking around about needing GPS they took some time and eventually answers came.
For these children conditioning over time and space is becoming not “real.” Attention and behavior may think it is all about “out there” yet their internal dialogue is making a fuss saying “NO! There’s more.” Conditioning or cultural ways is not the only problem; it is the lack of knowing there is a middle ground.
The middle ground is whom that person is between out there and inside. The “middle ground” is a sense of physical sensations to thinking, feeling and acting. When “experience” becomes understanding it is the body that is talking to the brain. Key to finding the middle ground is being able to feeling the body’s input with the brain.
Feeling and understanding the messages from the body is not easy. Attention to its ways needs training daily. This is why parents and teachers are so important to be part of the program. The routine of looking inside is what opens understanding. The body holds “habitual patterns” wired in muscles thus become automatic, robotic and thus hard to notice. WTM lesson reeducates these muscles to sense brain and body connection. After a lesson a fourth grade boy responded, “One side (of his body) feels an ‘outer calm’ but an ‘inward mean’ and the other side (reeducated side) feels an ‘inner calm.’” I asked how does the “inner calm” relate to others. He said, “Oh no, I only let my good friends see my inner calm.” (The child didn’t have any good friends at school.) Each child describes the differences between who is inside and who is with the world. One child was very popular but couldn’t sleep. Another had violent reactions to others but didn’t know how to speak his truth.
It’s time for Education to teach about the middle ground between thinking and doing. What children understand is based on what the other thinks and is not always necessarily true. Essential for human beings to reach their potential is to first know intimately in both inner and outer worlds. The accurate sense of the physical body clarifies this understanding. Health, safety, innovation and self-direction is dependent the whole truth. The intellect cannot operate in the one-dimensional anthropology such as “out there.”
We found children could rote learn and answer questions “correctly” about what we were teaching but it wasn’t until they understood personally did they apply. The physical sensations AND outer impressions create perception. If children are trained to feel too much out there, they can’t sort out what is right. Split between the two body and mind lies the hidden gift of that human being.
The middle ground is important for all types of situations. A child fell off his bike because he stopped but could feel his bike was still moving. His brain said he stopped but the bike said was still moving. Another was accused of pulling the hair of a little girl. Everyone in the class reacted and told him to say he is sorry. The child wouldn’t talk to tell us his truth. He didn’t pull her hair. It was the little girl that finally admitting he didn’t. A father sliced off his two fingers on a table saw after paying (violent) video games intensely for 4-6 weeks. He believes this made him not fully present at the saw. His awareness was hidden. Being in a body can feel illusive… and dangerous if we don’t know the middle ground. Demoralization of space and time animates a different dimension of perspective. Brain chemistry changes and behavior is disturbed. There is a middle ground and in it a supreme value of information open through the coherence of the human complexity, not separation.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
Children can’t do it alone. We will continue to help the parents who saw improvement implement tools in daily life. Sustainability is dependent on parent community participation. The needs at home and in schools are the responsibility of all. We will be working with Universities to bring this information into undergraduate curriculum by first inspiring and running research. Teachers need support early on in their career. By the time they are on the job their schedules and stress levels are too high. The field of “Embodied Cognition” in psychology will be WTM focus for this mission.
Follow-up with parents and evaluate the children progress in the fall will also requested. Plans to implement tools in an easier way next year are being brainstormed with Principal Garcia and WTM director Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell. Kohala Elementary teacher interested in learning how to implement concepts into the classroom will also be considered. Commitment of time from the teachers is necessary yet levels of commitment are negotiable to make this feasible.
FOR TEACHERS (Classroom and Extra Curricular Programs) INTERESTED
Wellness Through Movement offers four levels of commitment in the teacher training:
▪ Offers for WTM tools to be adapted into extra curriculum programs, e.g. yoga, dance, garden, hula, and music
▪ Offers to come into the classroom and work individually with the more challenging children
▪ Offers to come into teacher classrooms and work side-by-side with teachers and adapt concepts to classroom culture
▪ Offers to provide brain function lessons in classrooms
▪ Offers to do a P.A. announcement
(Note: We are told classroom teachers have a new reading program to learn for fall of 2014 on top of their regular job. This may take their time away from being able to commit to WTM.)
Publication and research is composing for child development conferences in collaboration with University professor Carolyn Palmer at Vassar College and research team F.I.S.H. (Feldenkrais In Schools Hui).
▪ Offer availability for individual sessions to parents or children interested for a discounted fee.
ACHIEVEMENTS WITH CHILDREN
Children Completing Program (14)
▪ 5 children ages 3rd -5th grade
▪ 9 children ages K-2nd grade
▪ 90% of the parents of the children in the WTM program report “greatly improved” their child’s wellbeing. 100% of the parents who took the survey said the WTM proved supportive for their children (70% said “greatly supportive”).
▪ 90% of the children who attended all classes improve in physical organization and coordination.
▪ Private Parent Consultations: 5 parents reported suggestions greatly improved and valued suggestions; 3 parents reported somewhat improvement with suggestions (12 hours of Parent consultations was offered to 8 parents)
MAJOR CHANGES with Two Children
Fifth Grade Boy
▪ Cured insomnia
▪ Personality shifted to happier more playful participant with peers
▪ Kindergartner began to talk after not talking for 10 weeks and became responsive to directions. Child also started talking about past traumas at beginning of school year.
▪ Mother reports cured of grinding his teeth and sleeps deeper and snores
▪ Principal reports no more office visits for poor conduct
HURDLES PROCESS OF PROGRAM FACED
▪ After school class attendance commitment was poor:
▪ 28 Children Signed up For the Program and we had 14 no complete program
▪ 8 children no show
▪ 1 child moved
▪ 1 child was removed because parent work schedule allowed her have time with child
▪ 1 child switch classes because is met more afternoons and wasn’t allowed to do both classes (working parent)
▪ 1 child dropped because he felt left out (he was from another school)
▪ 2 child dropped reason unknown
▪ Scheduling with teachers and lack of time
▪ Teacher correspondence
▪ Stress level of teachers
▪ Room, equipment and logistics
WHAT HAPPEN WITH FUNDS
▪ 15 week WTM program (14 children)
▪ 2 Groups (Grades K-2 & 3-5)
▪ In-Classroom (62 children) WTM lessons
▪ Instructor Stipend
▪ Assistant Instructor Stipend
▪ 15 week physical education-yoga class and equipment at elementary school in Hilo conducted by University of Hawaii Hilo students and professor Cassidy Sterling
▪ Note: Teacher Stipend was declined due to lawsuit with DOE
▪ In-Class Lessons on WTM Tools (64 Students)
▪ Parent Hours
▪ 5 parents to Kohala Library
▪ 10 parents at Kohala Elementary and
▪ 14 the second time at Kohala Elementary
▪ 40 parents to Waimea Elementary
▪ Student Progress Reports for parent review
▪ Phone and Email Correspondence
▪ End of the Program Evaluations
▪ 6 Blog Entries
▪ WHAT HAPPEN End of Year Report
▪ The Human GPS
▪ Research project continues
▪ Listening four basic steps
▪ Transition Times Body to Brain
▪ Child Get Organized
▪ Research Update
▪ Meetings 10 (phone and office)
▪ Meetings 4
End of Program Evaluation and Parent Survey
Development of Teacher Training Program Model
▪ Classroom visits
▪ WTM lessons in classroom
▪ Debriefing teachers WTM tools
▪ Observe and evaluate teachers implementing tools
▪ Debriefing Teachers teaching tools
Research Follow-up (Presently)
▪ Evaluation and Testing Research Assessments with Vassar
▪ Vassar College and F.I.S.H. research team review and test assessments
▪ Project development for poster presentation submission To SRCD Society for Research in Child Development conference Philadelphia 2015
▪ Control group from University of Hawaii Hilo equipment donation for PE
Intern Training (2)
▪ Video debriefing
▪ Private sessions
▪ Pre-and post review of class or lesson
(One intern got accepted into the four-year Feldenkrais Training and plans to come back to Hawaii to teach.)
Video Recording of WTM Program
▪ Children’s program 15 weeks
▪ 1 Parent Presentation
▪ 2 In-Class Lessons
▪ Intern debriefing (4 weeks)
Outreach from Parent Support Group in Successful Elementary schools
Ideas for Parent involvement
▪ 1 hour/month volunteer
▪ Garage sale for supportive funds
▪ Parent Organization Fund Raising
*Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell is the Director and Instructor for WTM
The Human GPS for Learning
How Movement and Cognition Unite
Thinking and reasoning are used to address learning in Education but rarely is the brain and body considered an operation of two hemispheres opposite and complementary. Arts, movement, and even (western) yoga classes are valuable “breathers” to thought and reason but to educate the foundation of how the human nervous system learns awareness in quality of movement must be united with cognition. WTM does so by looking at the integration of three functions:
1. Motor Patterns (different than motor skills) – the character of movement form as perception
2. Cognition – development and structure of thinking
3. Perception – when the is brain activated (by a pattern of sensation) and attempts to notice and process
To clarify the above definitions:
Movement patterns are sensations synergistically operating with the senses in action, specifically the sense of “proprioception.” Proprioception negotiates between senses, thoughts and actions trying to carry out intention. Proprioception in this context is defined as the sense of motion between body parts and character of motion as a whole. Cognition is the development and structure of thinking. And the attempt to notice and process thought negotiating with the senses is what is labeled perception.
The design of structure and function in motion displays communication between thoughts and senses. Mindset can be read by “movement patterns.” Movement, its efficiency and dysfunction of patterns give insight to this communication.
Information from communication motor patterns is in and out of the psyche’s awareness. The key to WTM’s role is to expand “awareness.” Direction of attention defines quality of awareness. This awareness displays through the observation between intention, attention and reaction of movement. Awareness understands difference between intention and action. In other words awareness expands realization of what we intend to do versus what we are doing.
Teachers and parents realizing the importance of this type of awareness change the trajectory of a child’s life. Awareness of this internal dialogue (physical sensations collaborating with the brain) drastically changes reaction. The choice in dynamics of interaction, relationship and communication also change.
For children to develop the resiliency to conquer the challenges in adult life they must find their organic “GPS,” as the children say. Deeply embedded in the sensation of motor patterns, tensions and orientation, locks the GPS of perception. Technology, poor food quality and the increasing number of choices from the external pressures pull the psyche further away from their greatest asset – the GPS of organic learning. To find solutions to problems unforeseen children need training in both thought or reason and the internal wisdom of their organic GPS. This kind of GPS operates from the organic sensation of motor patterns telling us where we are to where we want to go… thus who we become.
Dear Supporters and School Administrators at Hawaii Dept. of Education,
Just to let you know your efforts in helping the research team with WTM has not gone to waste. And a special thanks to the support from First Hawaiian Bank in making this project reach schools in all the islands of Hawaii.
Want your Children to be Organized?
Children seem lost when put in a situation where they have to be the ones to take care of themselves, cooperate with others, or to be creative in finding a solution to a challenge. Even creating a new game child seems lost. Being organized takes self-regulation. Self-regulation takes self-awareness and responsibility of their actions with their attitude. Get self-aware to be self-responsible to teach your children to be organized. To be organized SELF- INQUIRE.
Start Young and Make Daily Process a Routine
Organization takes routine, review steps in a routine day after day, and ask what was learned at the start and the end of each day or lesson. To kindle memory and learning recall what happen the day before in a lesson. If children don’t remember put them in the position they were in when they learned. Then think of sequence of what was done step by step in the lesson and ask the children to recall and share.
Getting Self-Aware through Action and Memory
What did we do first? What did we do next? What did you learn? How did you apply the learning in daily life (at home, school or with friends)?
Ask children the first thing they did in their _____________ lesson (math, reading lesson or if a parent what they do on a school day, a play day, a certain day of the week).
Recall the next step the children experienced in the lesson. This kindles the physical sensation of the experience to remind the mind how the learning unfolded. Rekindling the memory by recalling the sequence of steps in the lesson “Organizes” thoughts and instills memory.
Organization takes Repeating Patterns of Routine
Write the Agenda (in a pattern) for the day on the board so all the children can see what the day has in store. Follow this routine daily if at all possible. Routine steps set up automatic responses from the body-to- brain in learning.
Recalling the Steps in the Routine of the Day on a day-to-day basis. Each routine need to always include Self-Inquiry. Ask children how they physically felt when they came into the classroom and if their attitude is associated with this feeling in the body.
They may come have come in hungry, tired, or thirsty. Parents we need to help address basic daily needs like good meals regularly, rest, exercise and drinking water. Quiet the internal dialogue of sensations so deaf the ears can hear. Improve self-responsibility and self-regulation by pointing attention to their actions and physical condition and how it may be affecting attitude. Ask your children to notice how they are feeling and if they are aware of how they got that way? If they are tired every morning did they go to bed early enough? Ask as if it is not your responsibility but theirs. Hungry? Did they get up early enough for breakfast? Do they need water? The brain “eats” water to communicate the information the teacher of parent is sharing.
This process of Self-Inquiry may take time at first but will save time in the long run.
Come and share. Come and learn about the exciting changes and challenges we have seen in your child. Share with us what you have learned while your child has attended WTM and if there are any questions before we end the program. Learn about the new ideas for WTM in the coming years.
ALL PARENTS AND TEACHERS ARE WELCOME
Wellness Through Movement is about teaching the whole child through the sensation of the body supports self-awareness, self-direction, communication, and social and emotional ease.
Thank you to our Sponsors of Community Members, First Hawaiian Bank, 21 Century Program, North Kohala Community Resource Center and Kohala Elementary School
Mahalo Kohala Teachers for opening up your minds and hearts to a new way of looking at learning and growing for our children to be become fully alive from the BODY-TO-THE-BRAIN.
Three teachers Mel Rufo, Bindi Wiernicki, and Merrilee Carpenter wants tips from WTM for their second and fifth grades classrooms at Kohala Elementary. Requests from teachers include enhancing Listening, Following Directions, Transition times, Improve Responsiveness and Self Regulation for the second graders. And in addition look for Tips to supper Brain Function for the fifth graders.
This Blog is for listening.
Listening from the Body-to-Brain
Listening has as much to do with what is going on in the back of our mind and how are bodies feel inside to what is being said to us. This internal dialogue of our physical body must first address the basics: Blood Sugar (healthy meals), Rest, and Water. If any of the three are lacking as a regular routine the “talk” from the physical feeling nature in out body is louder then anything “out there.”
For the younger kids we have to increase the awareness of sound, and the space it fills. We’ll do this lesson first with the physical space of “personal space” and “space between each other.” Experiencing space makes it easier for children to understand sound also has space. (Many adults may benefit with this lesson when on cell phones in public areas.)
Children may be able to hear us but can’t listen. An adult may have a similar challenge when the internal dialogue of what he/she feels (physically or emotionally) gets in the way of understanding what is being said. Researchers Alfred Tomatis and Christian Vold focus more on the problems of “listening” then “hearing.” The brain gets a great deal of “silent traffic” from a matrix of metabolic processes (sensations in the body) that can get in the way of listening. Could this be one reason our children can’t “hear” us?
Take care of the basics on listening first by taking care of the sensations of the body:
TAKE CARE OF THE PHYSICAL
4 BASICS TO IMPROVE LISTENING
Still no improvement? Motor Patterns May Play an Important Role
For some children physical activity or attention “inside to out there” may not change behavior. What could be more important is how he/she feels inside. Motor patterns can lock them into habitual behavior controlling our emotions instead of us. A trained Feldenkrais Practitioner observes how movement explains the inner dialogue stuck in a pattern dysfunctional to comprehending or listening. Wellness Through Movement (WTM) games integrate body-to-brain communication: physical to emotional and emotional to mental, and mental and emotional back to physical. How we move (or motor circuits) reflect habitual ways of “thinking.” Scientific American Mind says, “Motor circuits (muscle movement) doesn’t just feed thinking THEY ARE THINKING.” WTM reeducates motor circuits to improve sense of self thus self-regulation and self-help. When mind and body work together character improves, and sense of self and awareness to one’s uniqueness is honored.
More information or free consultation: 808-885-7190
Thank you to the over forty parents who attended the Waimea Elementary Wellness Through Movement Parent Hour this February. Parent’s main concern was getting their children to listen. Learning how a child listen takes understanding how children ”feel more than think.”
Recognize the feeling nature (physical and emotional) behind words to understand what is heard inside a child’s mind. The the facial expression, body posture and emotion behind the word is what children hear, not the words.
Children look to parent to see if they are okay when they fall, in the same way they look at their parents reactions more then what they are saying. If parents are upset children hear the attitude, not necessarily the word. The physical feeling in the body holds the intonation behind words. This intonation explains what children hear.
Take a deep breath out next time you are in a hurry or frustrated. Hum and let attention follow the vibration inside your body. ( Get the book A New SENSORY Self Awareness…have your child and you read the lesson). Training attention to feel inside your body simultaneously as you speak, especially when reacting is a simple idea but not easy especially if there is anger or frustration. Words are physical actions and those actions drastically change a meaning to a word.
Don’t believe us try it. Experiment with this next time you are upset with someone. Feel where the breath ends, or the hum inside the body after a few exhalations. Then remember to keep attention to the sensation inside the physical body while speaking. Careful, if the words lash out your attention has lost the feeling nature inside the body.
Is this Wellness Through Movement? This concept of having dual attention inside and out is weaved into all the movement lessons. Movements re-pattern motor patterns that set perception. Different than other “movement” programs we teach awareness through the body to thinking.
Knowing your body teaches truthfulness, self- responsibility and regulation. The body creates “thinking.” Our bodies teach us how to be fully alive inside and with life… heart, mind and spirit.
Be on the look out for a video. We will ask a few parents if it is okay to post this process between two children.
Transition Times from the Body-to-Brain
Caution: The body is organic and so is the mind. People understand movement helps children refocus but is can also do the opposite. If children are moved around every 10 – 15 minutes it will be very difficult to get them to listen or follow directions. The framework of time doing a certain task has to be for a long enough period of time for the body to adjust, the mind to understand (the direction), and the task to be carried out. Plan on it. Transition is an organic process; it is not just a change “in thought” especially for children. Too little time on one task doesn’t take into the account the time needed for the whole body, mind, and spirit to adjust to the new direction. Remembering transition is an “organic” process and so is following directions. If the brain could be thought of as a sensation, and feeling all with a thought you as a teacher or parent my have more patience for children’s adjustment period. Measure the amount of time on a specific task. Keep them on task for at least 20 (K-1 graders) to 30 minutes (2-3 graders) and no more then 45 minutes for older children.
Okay now I’ll tell you how to speed up Transition:
To speed up Transition time: Make every transition a routine of steps recalling the physical actions. This means us the same words in the direction: 1. Say what the children are doing. 2. Then say what the children are going to do 3. And for how long they will be doing the next step.
Then when the class returns back to a new lesson or task start the new task by asking the children recall where they left off with the last lesson of the same topic. If there is no attention to this question ask children to check in with oneself (through “Home Breath” lesson. This is in the book A New SENSORY Self-Awareness). Home breath lesson in the long run will save a lot of time. When the direction is to intentionally direct attention inside the mind shifts letting go of past actions. If the child doesn’t want to do this help them know they will have hard time with the lesson because “they won’t be there.” If finding “home” becomes protocol or routine they’ll adjust quicker from one task to another. We address this topic in the WTM lessons. If any of your kids are in the program they will know exactly what you are talking about when you ask them if they are in “Home.” They are just as important as the lesson, so we want them to be in find “home.”
Results to getting children on task will not happen right away. This process must be repeated with every transition for two weeks. You will see results quicker and quicker as the school year unfolds. As the teacher (or parent) gets tired the student get more responsive.