You might hear your student talking about our MIND UP time during the day. Mind Up is a curriculum that helps teach students about their brains and how their brains work in order to help them be more proactive in how they approach learning and social interactions.
So far, we have learned some key areas of the brain. You may have heard your first grader talking about these three key parts of the brain: Prefrontal Cortex, Amygdala, andHippocampus. The prefrontal cortex is what we call our WISE LEADER, it is where our smart thinking happens (math, reading, etc.). Our Hippocampus is where our memories are stored, we called is our MEMORY SAVER. And the amygdala is the part of our brain the helps us stay safe when we are in danger, we call it our SECURITY GUARD.
We have talked through different scenarios with the kids about when each part of the brain might be working. We talk about how when they hear a startling noise, it is the amygdala that is working quickly to keep them safe. BUT, we also talked about how their amygdala is quick to make decisions that might not be necessarily appropriate in all situations. For instance, if they are on the playground and a friend comes by and bumps into them unexpectedly, their amygdala might tell them to push that person away to keep themselves from harm. But, in reality, pushing the other person isn’t the best way to handle that situation. We have talked about how our prefrontal cortex is better at handling these situations but in order for the messages to get sent from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex, the kids need to give their brains a few moments before reacting to the situation. We talked about how taking a deep breath and counting to ten (or down from ten) will help them calm down and give the different parts of their brain time to communicate before reacting. We will continue to help support the students in learning ways to handle situations like this.
We have also talked about how we need to be mindful learners. When we are mindful of others, we are aware of our surroundings and others around us. We now know that being mindful means thinking before we act. We talked about what mindful and unmindful behavior looks like for us:
Unmindful: Leaving your shoes in the middle of the living room
Mindful: Putting your shoes where they belong, out of the way
We also talked about mindful behavior at school and how everyone at school has to be mindful of everyone here, even teachers, custodians, and the principal. You can help them remember to be mindful of others when you see them using unmindful behavior, remind them to, “use your prefrontal cortex, please!”