Wellness Through Movement Mentorship January 2014-May 2014
BUILDING TOGETHER a WHOLE CHILD
WHAT HAPPEN (A list at the end of this Blog)
With the Last Working Directly with the Children
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.
Why did the younger kids (kindergarten- 2 grades) remembered twice as much as the older kids (3rd -5th grades)? Why did the younger children applied the tools and used their bodies get information about themselves? Younger children were also more cooperative and compassionate with each other. However why did what use to take minutes to improve this time take weeks to improve with even the younger kids. The older groups of kids were not improving until 3/4 of the way into the program (9 weeks) and did not remember what we did from week to week. There was more conflict between the older kids, often even before entering the class. The most alarming was how the older kids non-empathic as if they were looking at their peers detached or through a screen. They were removed or disconnected not only to each other but also to themselves.
How do we build cooperation, empathy and compassion? WTM believes it has to start with self-awareness training, on a physical level of experience. Sensory self-awareness literally teaches through sensation or the feeling of the physical-ness inside the body. The personal experience from physical sensations makes self-awareness tangible, real. With the older kids cutting off the outer world by crawling under a desk or closing their eyes is private was the only way they could feel themselves. To become self-directive and inspire motivation we teach self-reflection …and compassion with oneself.
Education systems teach through thought and reason. The learner is invisible. The rote learning parrots information unable to apply to future circumstances. Life skills are education. The learner has to be brought into attention by the learner. What is correct today may not be correct tomorrow. By the year 2072 our kindergartners are in their 60’s. What will be the problems they face?
Attention is trained to focus on approval “out there” and results are reactions and competition versus bettering oneself. Conflictive between peers spur depression and giving-up with no sense of what excites the individual. The efforts for self-inquiry and collaboration are foreign concepts. Innovation scrabbled their minds as they gaze to the teacher or parent for answers. Don’t tell them. Give them opportunity to discover in themselves what makes them tick. The feeling of their heart and soul, which is the sensation of the body, will lead the way but attention has to point in that direction.
The foreign feeling of looking inside, particular at their body’s reaction fuels a child’s curiosity. When someone feels the personal effects something deeper learns and catches interest. Though what used to take three weeks for all children to feel their bodies the WTM program took almost three times as long for the younger children and four times as long for the older children to learn self awareness. When they did a few children did however they DID MAKE PROFOUND changes.
For the older kids “to find themselves: we turned the responsibility on them. They replied, “We NEED A GPS.” They laughed. It wasn’t funny to a child development specialist. We asked, “You tell us how could you feel your physical body on the floor (in a lying position)?” They couldn’t feel their body. Attention was more on the neighbor lying next to them. It was embarrassing to feel them selves.
For these children by the age of their conditioning time and space is became not “real” or present. Attention and behavior may think it is all about “out there” yet the internal dialogue of the sensory motor sensation is making a fuss. Attention is flying around the room and lost inside. We believe the conditioning or education and cultural ways is a big part of the problem but learning from inside is key character building and engaged learning. The middle ground is taught both “out there” and inside. But this is futile until the WHOLE SCHOOL joins in. Cultural impact to health and vitality in learning and wellbeing is inseparable (see IMPACT RESEARCH).
The middle ground is the combination of attention out there, but also inside. Who is paying attention? The “middle ground” is a sense of self: the physical sensations to thinking, feeling and acting forming perception (see Blog Society for Research in Child Development). When “experienced” learning changes. The understanding from the body is a whole different story to information learned from the brain. Key to finding the middle ground is being able to feeling dual attention and out.
Feeling and understanding the messages from the character of sensation body is not easy. Attention to its process takes daily training. This is why community (ohana at school and home) is so important to wellbeing (and the WTM program). The routine of looking inside opens understanding.
Believe it or not PERCEPTION IS PHYSICAL. The body holds “habitual patterns.” Wired into muscles are automatic, robotic habits hard to notice unless trained to pay attention inside. WTM lesson reeducates these muscles by sensing sensation to thought, the brain and body connection.
For example: After a lesson a fourth grade boy responded, “One side (of his body) feels an ‘outer calm’ but an ‘inner mean’ and the other side (reeducated side) feels an ‘inner calm.’” I asked how does the “inner mean” relate to others. He said, “Oh no, I only let my good friends see my outer calm.” This child didn’t have any friends. Children could sense there was more that they didn’t like. Each child describes the differences between who is inside and who is with the world different. Just as adults we have an “outer person” and an “inner person.” Which one is true? The conflict of both depletes well-being. Another child was very popular but couldn’t sleep because school pressures. He was only in fifth grade. Another child had violent tempers but didn’t know how to speak his truth probably because he didn’t know it. It was buried in the fibers of his muscles and motor patterns.
It’s time for WTM to approach school culture. Education must teach the middle ground (between thinking and doing). What children understand is only based on what the other thinks or says. This is how they are taught. Ask mom, dad, or teacher for the answer. Their answers are not necessarily true for that child’s inner process.
Essential for human to reach their potential is to first know intimately in both inner and outer selves. The accurate sense of the physical body clarifies the inner selves. Self-care, health, learning, safety, innovation is dependent self-responsibility. The intellect cannot operate in the one-dimensional anthropology such as “out there” and be fully alive in the self.
We found children could rote learn and answer questions “correctly” but what we were teaching could only be understood by showing us they were living it. Innovative ways to apply tools passed the student in the program.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE MIDDLE GROUND
The awareness of middle ground (inner sensation of character in the self and out there) will change perception of EVERY SITUATION. For Example: A child fell off his bike because he stopped but could not feel his bike was still moving. His brain said he stopped but the bike was still moving. What he was doing and what he THOUGHT he was doing was different. This happens ALL THE TIME to every person on some level. Another example was with a boy accused of pulling the hair of a little girl. Everyone in the class reacted to the boy and told him to say he is sorry. The child wouldn’t talk. He was scared. He couldn’t tell us his truth. “Out there” was the only truth in his young mind, but his inner truth knew different. He didn’t pull her hair. It was the little girl that finally admitting he didn’t.
This middle ground is missing in adult too. A father sliced off his two fingers on a table saw after paying (violent) video games intensely for 4-6 weeks. He believes this video type changed his mindset. The games made him not fully present with the saw. His awareness of what he was doing to what he was thinking was in two different places. Each place was unaware of the other.
Being in a body can feel illusive… and dangerous if we don’t know the middle ground. Demoralization of space and time to just “out there” animates a different dimension of perspective. Brain chemistry and behavior is changing in our kids. The middle ground must be honored in the process of education. Thee supreme value this inner and outer information stimulates the coherence of human complexity, and potential. See our up coming steps WTM takes to improve social culture through sensory awareness.
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.
WHAT we DID HAPPEN:
▪ 15 week WTM program (14 children)
2 Groups (Grades K-2 & 3-5)
In-Classroom (62 children) WTM lessons
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 as planned was declined due to lawsuit with DOE unrelated to program.
SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH:
Teachers (3) SUPPORT
▪ In-Class Lessons on WTM Tools (64 Students)
Parents (69) SUPPORT
▪ 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
Community Support: 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)
School Counselor Support
▪ 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 (see SRCD Presentation Blog)
▪ 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
Publication and research is being composed 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).
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
TEACHERS (Classroom and Extra Curricular Programs)
Wellness Through Movement offered 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.)
▪ Offer availability for individual sessions to parents or children interested for a discounted fee.
ACHIEVEMENTS WITH THE 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 PROGRAM FACED
▪ Class attendance
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
▪ Teachers and lack of time
Stress level of teachers
Room, equipment and logistics
MAHALO TO the TEAM
Parents; Principal Garcia; Counselor Rosemae Watterson; Sponsors; and Teachers; and WTM Interns
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.
- Cherry Sanford
- Andy Russel
FUNDERS and SPONSORS
▪ Private Community Members
▪ First Hawaiian Bank
▪ North Kohala Community Resource Center
▪ 21st Century Program Kohala Elementary
Mel Rufo (5th grade), Merrilee Carpenter and Bindi Wiernicki 1st grade -Thank you all the other teachers who reached out to improve the wellbeing of their students by squeezing WTM presentations 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. Carol Felldin and Ed Mills for brainstorming on research measurements. Cathy Kerr from Brown University for inspired Feldenkrais Practitioners to collect data and thus spur this venture of research with WTM.
*Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell is the Director and Instructor for WTM