Guiding our children to shine their inner LIGHT by being our absolute best!

I had an interesting experience today at school. My kids had just come back to the room from a humanity special. The kids were transitioning into the classroom and chatting by their cubbies as they put their library books away. It was a typical transition period until I heard a brief conversation…

One of my young girls turned to another young girl and said, “Are you still mad at me?” Generally, I wouldn’t pay attention to this because we all get annoyed with friends once in awhile and we talk about it and work it out. However, it was the look in her eyes when she asked that told a deeper story.

I know the history of these two girls. One has a tendency to get upset when her friends don’t do what she’d like them to do. The other is a ‘pleaser‘ and just wants to make everyone happy. The pleaser had the puppy dog eyes when she timidly asked the question and you could tell that deep inside of her she was frightened that the answer would be yes.

The girls noticed that I was paying attention to their conversation and quickly scurried off. As they brushed by me, I caught the eye of my ‘pleaser’ and said, “Hey there, do you remember what we talked about at the last Girls Rule meeting?” She earnestly replied, “Yes. You taught us that we needed to believe in ourselves and remember that we need to approve of ourselves, not others.” I smiled and said, “Yes, and what else?” She began to smile and she replied, “I don’t ever have to give my power away. I need to like myself.” My eyes and her eyes gave a high five and she bounced back to her seat.

All too often our kids are searching for approval from not only their teachers, coaches and parents but also their peers. They look to others to validate their accomplishments, their thoughts, their feelings and their outer being as well. We teach them to strive for acceptance from a very young age without even realizing it. Unfortunately, we have set them up for failure without intending it.

How did we do this?

Well, think about it for a minute… From the moment you held that baby in your arms you smiled when they did things you liked. When they lifted their heads for the first time, when they lifted themselves for the first time, when they reached for a toy or food or you! You encouraged them with your smile (and clapping and cooing) and they learned very early on that they liked the way it felt when they made you smile. They also learned that you smiled when they did something that ‘pleased’ you, so what are they doing today with their friends?

You guessed it, looking for that smile in everything they do and say. (looking for approval)

Now, wait a minute Mrs. Savini, you mean to tell me I wasn’t suppose to encourage my child? No, that’s not what I am saying at all. In fact, I LOVE that you encouraged your child, you smiled at your child, you gave them approval, but now it’s time to teach them to approve of themselves so that no-one ever takes their power away.

It’s so critically important for us to teach our children to love and approve of themselves at a young age because if we don’t, then they will always search for approval from others. And, we all know that this becomes a long, lonely and sometimes heartbreaking road.

So how do we do this?

We give them a mirror.

1) Teach them how to do mirror work. It’s easy peezy, lemon squeezy! All you have to do, is look in the mirror and say something POSITIVE to yourself. ‘I like you’, ‘You’re a good writer’, ‘You’re a good friend’, You’re Important!’ My kids do this every Wednesday morning in school and I can see the positive impact it has on them weekly.

2) When they ask your opinion of them or their work or their behavior, hold up the mirror instead of immediately giving them your opinion. Get down on their level (physically), look at them directly in their eyes and ask, “What do you think?” Give them the opportunity to reflect on their own work, behavior and being before you offer your thoughts.

3) When they do something that pleases you, tell them but remember to encourage them to look at themselves as well. You may say, “How do you feel about this?” or “I’m so proud of you! You should be proud of yourself. Are you proud of yourself?”

By constantly reminding our children to look in the mirror (physically, mentally and emotionally) we are giving them their power back and teaching them to love themselves. A child who seeks approval from within is a child who will always find the light in the darkness and who will never, no never give their power away to another individual.

Teach them to approve of themselves and you’ll give them the gift of a lifetime!

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

VickiI-Approve-of-Me-seal

Every Wednesday morning, my first graders circle up on the perimeter of our colorful rug to do their ‘mirror work.’

Mirror work is a critical component of learning to love yourself and I make sure that we are all focused on this activity at least once a week. We have a mirror in a frame and we gently pass the mirror around the circle to each person in the classroom, including myself and a TA in the classroom. The goal is to look in the mirror and give the person staring back at you a genuine compliment. I tell the kids that I don’t want them to compliment the clothes that they wear or  the ‘things’ upon their bodies that were bought for them. Instead, I want them to look into their own eyes and give themselves a compliment or reassurance that they are awesome. I do this because I want them to know that they are amazing just as they are and instead of searching for approval outside of themselves, they ultimately learn to approve of themselves from within (priceless).

You go through your every day life and you just never know what sticks and whether or not you are truly making a difference. As a teacher, I often wonder how much my students actually absorb from academic curriculum and more important-my 7 Essentials curriculum.

However, yesterday I was pleasantly surprised during our mirror work time.

You see, aside from ‘mirror work’ on Wednesday mornings, my students also choose a daily affirmation each morning and I also incorporate the 7 Essentials into my daily routine with them.

Yesterday, a child came up to choose an affirmation randomly from our deck of affirmation cards (www.magnificentcreations.com) and the affirmation that was chosen for the day was, “I am unique.”

As usual, I asked the kids to tell me what they thought the word meant and here are some of their responses;

1) “It means you are perfect just the way you are.”

2) “It means you are special.”

3) “Unique means you are one of a kind.”

cat

Upon hearing some of those definitions my heart began to smile and then I asked them to circle up for their mirror work and more than half of the class looked in the mirror and used one of those definitions while speaking to the person in the mirror-themselves.

My heart smiled BIG!

There’s nothing more rewarding as a teacher than to see your pupils standing in their own light and radiating. It’s nice to know that my students DO listen-at least to the good stuff!🙂

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

ProblemSolving

When you hear Aha, you may think it is a good thing because ‘Aha’ usually means that you are becoming aware of something, but when you hear what AHA stands in this article, I’m not so sure you’ll feel the same way…

As a school teacher of 15 years I have seen many changes through my career. I have seen staggering changes in education, expectations, learning styles and overall behavior of our children. In the past few weeks I have become critically aware of three important elements that I see clear across the board with our current generation that need to be addressed; (I could write another book on this but I will keep it short and sweet for now)

  • Today’s children are generally anxious. Kids always want to know what is coming next and why they are doing what they are doing in that moment. They worry about the simple things in life yet do not pay attention to the details that can help them to feel secure. They have more fears today then we had in our childhood and they look for others to solve their problems because they are afraid that they don’t have the tools to do so on their own.
  • Kids of today are learning to be helpless. Their minds are in three different places at once and they therefore struggle to focus on one thing at a time. Perhaps this is because they are so anxious that they are not in the moment. Maybe they are too focused on the past and too fearful of the future to stay in the present moment, or perhaps they have just learned that they don’t have to do things for themselves because the adults will do it to get it done on their timeline
  • Today’s children are angry. There are many times in a day when I am putting fires out because someone has been ‘rubbed the wrong way’ or is upset because they didn’t get their way. They easily bark at one another instead of talking things out and listening to the ideas of others. Our children of today go from joy to anger in a matter of minutes and then back to joy when they get their way once again. It’s truly remarkable how they’ve learned to use anger as a bargaining chip.

So there you have it, the AHA generation in a nutshell. Maybe that wasn’t the Aha you were expecting but it’s something we certainly need to look at.

Now, where did this come from?

In my opinion, our kids are learning from us! Think about your average day and the amount of stress you are under. We run from one activity to another. We speak so quickly that we often wonder if we are making sense and we never make time to just BE. We have become Human Doings instead of Human Beings because we are trying to do way too much in our lives. Doesn’t that make you feel anxious?

And think about it… if you are anxious…if your child’s teachers are anxious…if the world spins this quickly daily and everybody is running in different directions…aren’t we all creating an anxious environment for our children to grow in?

How could they not develop deep anxiety in life with these circumstances?

We put pressure on our children from the moment they enter school with academic testing (if not sooner based upon our own expectations). We constantly rush them from one activity to another because, well, hey that’s just what we do today. We never take time to sit and quiet our minds or teach our children to quiet their minds yet we expect them to relax and just be kids when they do have ‘down time’. Hmmmm, how are they to do that when even they are under so much pressure?

Let’s talk about learned helplessness– I don’t believe that we have done this on purpose, but it seems that we are always making excuses for our children’s behaviors or seeking a label to explain those behaviors instead of addressing the issues and teaching them how to problem solve. Our kids are over stimulated with electronics and under stimulated with human connection! We often ask our children to do something and then when we realize it hasn’t been done, we do it ourselves because we are in a hurry and it’s just quicker that way. But, what are we creating with this behavior?

How about those angry kids? We are so hell bent on making sure that our children don’t experience what we experienced and we are so concerned with ‘fairness’ that we have forgotten that sometimes life isn’t fair and we all need to learn how to roll with the punches and go with the flow because sometimes things just don’t work out the way you intend.

Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I don’t like to complain about something without having a solution. So, what can we do?

We need to teach our kids how to be Problem Solvers.

We need to stop taking their power away by answering for them or doing it for them and start empowering them to believe in themselves and speak their truth. The world isn’t always fair but our present circumstances do not have to determine our future and learning to overcome obstacles in life can only build strong character. Give your kids their power back and stop solving their problems for them. Instead, give them the tools that they need to be successful in life.

  • When they come to you to ask you if their picture/work is good don’t give them an answer. Instead, get down on their level and say, “What do YOU think about your picture?” Allow them to talk about their work and share their pride. This will teach them that their opinion matters and they don’t have to seek approval outside of themselves.
  • When they feel disappointed or upset about something, don’t offer them the solution or try to make it better (and believe me I know this is hard). Instead, sit with them and allow them to feel their feelings without judgment, then ask them what they think they can do about the problem. Guide them to problem solve without giving them a direct solution. This will help them to feel empowered because they had a part in the solution. And as difficult as it is-because we all just want to make it better- it’s worth it in the long run because you are giving them tools for a lifetime. What is that old saying… “Give them a fish and they eat today but teach them to fish and they eat for an eternity!” (or something like that)

I don’t want our kids to be anxious, helpless and angry. Instead, I would like to create a strong foundation for them so that they can grow up to have a healthy, productive, joyful life. Now that is a much better Aha, agree?

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

PS Please leave me your comments. I read them all and love hearing your thoughts!

www.vickisavini.com

Mercury in retrograde, full moon, racing from one thing to the next…does it ever end?

Today I woke up a little later than usual and of course this put me behind the eight ball-so to speak- throughout the day. I felt like I was running from one thing to the next and as if life was a blur. Of course anything that could go wrong, went wrong, because isn’t that just how it goes?

I went into my classroom and tried to get ready for my 1st graders to come through the doors. I always like to make sure that when they walk through the door, they see a smile and not a rushing, crazy idiot!  Today, that was a challenge though.

I tried to print morning work and there was an issue with the printer. Next I tried to get online for a backup plan, but that didn’t work either. I rushed to find a solution and came up with something just in time, but the day was already spinning out of control.

After the kids came in and started on morning work I remembered that I had to do lovely progress monitoring. I pulled the iPod out of my drawer and had technical difficulties with that too. After wasting at least 30 minutes trying to get technology to work with me so that I could get the ‘data’ teachers are expected to report, I finally got things rolling, but it was clear that my energy needed a shift.

I progress monitored 6 students (tested them…oh I LOVE those tests) and then we were off to lunch. I was definitely on edge with the kids and that’s so NOT fair to them!

Every day after lunch and recess my kids have ‘Mindful Time’. This is a time that I dedicate solely to ‘quieting our minds’ (you can read about this in my book Ignite the Light)

Some days we lay our yoga mats on the ground and go to our ‘Happy Place,’ other days we do power yoga or color mandalas. I usually take this 10-15 minutes to breathe and release some tension or get ready for the next hour with the kids (ironically, I am not always mindful during mindful time). But today- TODAY was a day when Mindful Time really made the difference for me.

The kids came into the classroom and parked themselves on the community rug for instructions. I instructed them to use mandala’s to quiet their minds and then walked to my desk to ‘catch up’. Fortunately, I caught myself and decided that I too needed to practice mindfulness.

I announced to the kids that I was going to color a mandala today as well. I chose one, pulled out my crayons (that was really awesome-I love the smell of crayons) and began to color my mandala from the inside out. As I colored I shared some thoughts with the kids. They were so happy to have me join in as well and so intrigued by my coloring and choice of colors. I smiled to myself because of their excitement.

Time was up. I began to pack my crayons away and began counting down for the kids to do the same. When the kids came to the rug again for instructions something was different…I was different. My energy was now re-balanced and even though things were still ‘ticking’ me off throughout the afternoon with technology and testing, the edge was now gone!

mandala

This made me realize that we all need to push that pause button throughout the day. I literally sat and colored (yes, I colored with crayons) for about 10 minutes and suddenly life didn’t seem so tough after all.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to happen at the same time every day and it doesn’t have to happen in a certain way. Mindfulness just needs to happen. And the only way for us to be mindful is to sometimes hit the PAUSE button.

Try it. 10-15 minutes (even 5 minutes) in the middle of your stressful day can totally make all the difference in the world. Go ahead, pull out a box of crayons-I dare you!

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

PS Come visit me on my page and sign up for my newsletter so we can stay connected. I LOVE to hear from you!  www.vickisavini.com 

 

I have always prided myself on my ability to see the world through the eyes of a child and create a peaceful, warm, loving environment within my classroom. A few years ago I earned the title of ‘The Mindful Teacher’ because I work so hard to stay in the present moment and I actually teach a mindfulness practice in my classroom for at least 20 minutes a day every day after lunch and recess-

Yet, Friday was truly a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day because my 1st graders just wouldn’t listen to a word I said.

This behavior had been building from about the middle of the week but on Friday I literally stood there at the front of my classroom wondering if I was stuck in a Charlie Brown cartoon because as I gazed at my students it appeared that they were simply hearing ‘wha wha wha wha wha’ (just like the cartoon) instead of the actual words I was saying. At one point I actually raised my voice (which never happens in my room) in order to get their attention. I was then quickly heart broken as I noticed that this was the only way that the kids respond to adults-when their voice is loud and they know they’ve crossed the line. That was the worst feeling ever and certainly not how Mrs. Savini’s classroom runs on a daily basis!

I decided to take a step back, ask some questions to my audience and go within. And here’s what I found-

Step 1: I asked this question on my facebook page, ‘Why do you think children are not good listeners in today’s society?’

And here are some responses:

‘Technology and chemicals in food have negatively changed the physiology and essentially rewired our brains.’ -Nicole

‘Too much technology not enough out doors and simply playing learning and exploring.’ -Cheryl

‘Because the world is so rushed and no one teaches them to stop and listen, to quiet their mind and hear what is being said before responding. Many children and adults are so busy forming their response in their head that the don’t listen well.’ -Teri

Probably because adults are poor examples – at least its one reason.’ -Elizabeth

Step 2: I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and asked for answers from my higher self.

Dear Higher Self, 

What the hell is going on? Have I lost my magical touch? Is it a full moon?’

The answers came…

No it’s not a full moon and no you haven’t lost your magic touch. The truth is our kids are growing up in a hectic, busy society where everyone is a bit disconnected. Yes, the chemicals in the foods and environment are a factor and yes too much technology adds to their brains going astray, but the most important factor is YOU.

Hmmmmm. Well that’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?!

Have you ever gone out to dinner with your family and noticed the tables where parents are scrolling through their smartphones and kids are on electronics while waiting for their meals to come? I’m sure you’ve stood and watched people texting back and forth while they are sitting in the same room as well.

I remember a time when I was waiting to board a plane in a major airport. I noticed that many people were on electronics, busying their minds until their time was up. Then I turned and noticed a family of four sitting at a table; Mom was on her laptop, dad was on a kindle, the teen boy was also on a laptop and the youngest child (likely 8-9 years old) was on his iPod. They were not looking at each other, nor were they talking to one another. They were sitting in the same space, at the same table as a family, yet they were totally disconnected. Their flight was called and everyone packed up and walked away together, still not interacting. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this because it reminded me just how precious childhood is and that we are wasting it away by not connecting with the kids.

Where’s the connection nowadays (omg…did I just say that? I’ve turned into my mother…lol)? When do we look into each others eyes and share a moment of tenderness? When do we stop and truly listen to what the other person is saying? We need to get this back-we need to CONNECT and if we want our children to be better  listeners, then we need to listen better and model better.

After all of this pondering about the problem, the solution finally hit me-

My students need more mindfulness training than 20 minutes a day and I need to be more mindful to model this behavior for them!

The truth is, our kids have difficulty listening and are seemingly careless about life because they are growing up in a disconnected society where everyone is on the run and our minds are never in one place. We are running to a meeting, running to a practice, running to the grocery store, running-away.

We all need to STOP, BREATHE and just BE.

Here’s my new plan for Monday;

Instead of just practicing Mindfulness for 20 minutes or so after lunch and recess, I will practice throughout the day. I, myself will stay in the moment and serve as a strong model for my students. Each and every day moving forward, I will remind myself that the gift of life is the present moment. I will do this by posting this simple sign in my home, my car and of course, my classroom.

breathe.

 

Why breathe? Because when we take a deep breath, we are brought back to the present moment.

My students aren’t deliberating ignoring me and we aren’t deliberately ignoring the children, but we are all disconnecting in some way, shape or form. It’s time to connect again. It’s time to breathe!

 

Mindfulness in Action: If you like what I have to say and want to stay in touch go on over to my webpage and sign up for the FREE newsletter. You’ll get all of my blog posts, newsletters and upcoming events/classes.

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

Today was the third full day of school for my first graders and it certainly was a memorable one…

The beginning of a school year can be very tiring–not only for the teachers–but more important, for the kids. There are lots of rules and practices to learn and it’s difficult to get back into a routine after a few months off from school.

I could definitely tell by mid-afternoon that my kids needed a break, so right around 2 pm I told them it was snack time.

I normally play soft therapeutic music in the background throughout the day to set a peaceful climate in the classroom for learning, but during snack time it looked like they needed a little Disco, so I popped in a CD of classic Disco music to lighten up the day.

disco

The kids came alive and one little boy excitedly asked, “Mrs. Savini, are we going to play freeze dance?”

I turned to him, smiled and then replied, “What a terrific idea!”

I laid the ground rules about ‘safe dancing’ and let my fingers walk on the CD player for the music to begin.  The first song was Gloria Gaynor’s classic song, “I Will Survive.” 

The kids were hysterical to watch and their laughter was infectious.

A few songs later and we were all dancing around the room to ‘Le Freak.’ We were all bonding in a beautiful way that you simply don’t get from just the regular grind in the classroom. 

Just as I reached to pause the music for the freeze in our ‘Freeze Dance’ I notice a flicker of a light and the fire alarm went off!

The kids quickly followed procedure that we practiced the day before and headed to the door with our music still rocking on in the background.

We went outside smiling from ear to ear and waited to be called back into the building as patiently as we could.

As we walked into our building we could hear our music blaring from our classroom because the fire alarm was no longer sounding off. The kids looked at one another and then at me and we all chuckled.

My heart smiled because there was a hint of pride beaming from all of my lil’ 1st graders as they turned the corner and danced into our classroom.

They were proud that our room was rockin’ out and I was proud because they were one!

The truth is that our education system has a great deal of pressure right now, but we must always remember that we all learn best when we feel safe, accepted and loved for exactly who we are.

Today, my kids were Disco dancers, tomorrow, who knows…

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

It’s been only a few days since I have sent my 1st graders soaring into their summer vacation. This time of year is always difficult for me. People often say, “Mrs. Savini, you must be so excited because summer vacation is coming,” But the truth is, I always have mixed feelings. Of course, I look forward to the summer. This is the time of year that I am able to sleep a little later, decide what I want to do on a moment’s notice and spend lots of quality time with my own child, but I will also miss seeing my precious students smile every morning as well.

In the last week I often found myself dazing and wondering if I had done enough; Had I taught them enough writing? Had they learned all they needed to in math and reading? Most important, did they learn to believe in themselves, speak their truth and quiet their minds to go within and hear their soul speak?

It’s hard to know really. I teach 1st grade. My students are 6 and 7 years old and I am one of the first teachers they meet on their long journey of education. I started to wonder if they would truly remember the important lessons. Not the lessons of math, science, reading and writing, but the lessons of the heart and the lessons on believing in the person staring back at them in the mirror.

Instinctively, I found myself reviewing these important lessons voraciously as I wondered if they’d truly remember in the years to come and then the last day of school rolled along…

It was Thursday and I had a wonderful gift from the Universe as one of my previous students who had moved to another state came to visit on the last day of school. I was elated to see her and spend some time with her but I didn’t expect the gift she would bring.

On that last day of school, I went about my regular routine of signing autograph books, opening gifts and sharing fun stories with the kids and then after my students went off to gym for the last time in this year, my former student and I had a chance to visit and a beautiful gift unfolded.

We began to talk about her new surroundings and then she said, “Mrs. Savini, I will always remember your classroom and you. You always made us feel so safe and taught us to believe in ourselves.” My heart swelled as I realized in that moment that they do remember the important stuff, they really really do. 

Image

I looked at the clock and realized we had to get the little ones. I smiled at my former student and then went to get the kids feeling much lighter than I had before.

When you put your heart and soul into your every day life. When you are mindful-present in the moment-and give children an experience instead of curriculum to remember, magic happens!

I now know that I no longer have to wonder if I’ve done enough. We are always enough when we are simply being ourselves. Thank you Kels. I love you! Mrs. Savini

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 607 other followers