Guest: Allison Morgan, Zensational Kids
Allison Morgan MA, OTR, E-RYT is the founder and CEO of Zensational Kids, an educational company bringing evidence-based yoga and mindfulness practices to school communities worldwide. Teaching the inner resources of focused attention, self-awareness and resilience, Allison is passionate about training educators, mental health professionals and allied health professionals effective techniques to share these practices with youth. She began integrating yoga and mindfulness into her therapy sessions with children in 2007. Discovering the multitude of physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral benefits these practices offered her occupational therapy clients, and recognizing the need for more mental health programs in schools, Allison began writing curriculum and developing teacher training programs to help others share these practices.
“As the evidence-based research is mounting that children’s capacity to cope with emotions influences their ability to learn, there has been a national movement in education to integrate social and emotional learning into the classroom. “– Allison Morgan
At Zensational Kids, we believe that the interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies of the educator are just as important, if not more important than those of their students. As the educator, you are the main, energetic, social and emotional model in the classroom. Your ability to demonstrate social and emotional competence is essential. To strengthen these skills within the student and the educator simultaneously, our approach integrates mindfulness with SEL. Mindfulness is a proven technique to help build attentional focus, emotional regulation, reduction of stress and an improved sense of compassion for yourself and others.
Our program teaches specific breath, movement and mindfulness activities that allow students and educators to engage and practice together, therefore everyone can achieve the same benefits. As a classroom community, everyone develops the inner discipline of self-awareness and self-management. These two competencies hone the internal wiring, neural structure and nervous system balance that is necessary for compassionate social awareness. It also creates an internal environment that supports problem-solving and decision making skills. Through the integration of mindfulness and SEL, everyone…..both students and educators benefit in this way,
Some topics that were discussed include:
- Mindfulness is a skill set that children can carry for the rest of their lives.
- Teachers can benefit as much as children from finding an inner peace and calm
- Calm children have greater awareness and a better capacity to learn.
- Learn the rocket ship breathing technique that will help immediately.
- This generation of children is highly immersed in technology and rarely present minded.
- Growing awareness of the importance a student’s overall health and well-being plays in learning
- For many children, their behavior is unintentional and unplanned. Their behavior while disruptive and difficult to manage, is most often motivated purely as an attempt at communicating a need.
- Along with teaching educators and students the actual practices of breath, movement and mindfulness, understanding the science of what you are doing strengthens the practice as well as the degree of “buy-in.
- Problem behavior is what we see, but its roots lie deep within the child causing pain which needs to be healed not punished.
How does this approach help children?
- Provide youth with tools to allow them to thrive in and out of the classroom.
- Prepare all children to understand their personal power and lead their lives with greater joy for themselves and compassion for others.
- Help all youth build the capacity to focus their attention for learning and living with purpose.
- Support authentic inclusion of all students within the natural setting of the classroom and community.
- Empower educators to develop practices of self-care to nurture their own well-being.
- Help schools create a culture of compassion where inner confidence and resilience flourish.
- Provide holistic strategies to support mental health programs in schools.
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