kiss your brain: a compassionate life lesson from a preschool teacher

Last year, I worked as a substitute teaching assistant for a preschool program and had the opportunity to observe the dynamics between teachers, program assistants, and students in several classrooms.

One teacher quickly won my heart when I heard her say “Kiss Your Brain” in praise of the kids’ engagement in a group lesson. It wasn’t about having the “right” answer or being the best and smartest. It was a simple celebration of their ability and willingness to use their brain power—thinking, imagining, problem-solving, asking questions—and sharing it with others.

I’ve carried this practice into my home as well as into my yoga and meditation classes. With my son and the children that I teach, this phrase is a seed of self-compassion to nurture confidence and a sense of competency. It has the power to foster a love for learning without the pressure of performing to a certain standard of achievement. I also see its usefulness in cultivating a teaching-learning environment where equity, collaboration and cooperation (rather than competition and criticism) can bloom—equipping our children with a skillfulness that will serve them in all their relationships.

For myself and adult practitioners, it becomes a gentle reminder to honor these brilliantly-designed brains of ours. As we learn more about our neurobiological processes and their impact on mind (thoughts, words, feelings) and behavior (actions, habits), we can discover tools to work with rather than fight against our brain/mind to generate skillful behavior. Kiss your brain can be used as a mantra or affirmation to generate a new way of seeing and relating to ourselvesThrough this practice of self-understanding, self-compassion ripens beautifully.

#magic + #motherhood + #madness + #math: say what now?!

Learning about “lattice” + “area model” math from my 9 year-old niece. #saywhatnow? #thingsdonechanged #kissyourbrain

On “Guerrilla Learning” ~ Grace Llewellyn & Amy Silver

Guerrilla Learning is coloring outside the lines, finding the shortest direction between two points, moving directly toward goals, doing the best you can with what you’ve got to work with now, making what you want for your kids and what they want for themselves as real as you can, asking people for specific kinds of help, getting out of theory land and into the trenches, realizing that schools could take centuries to significantly improve (or to get out of the way altogether) and that meanwhile your children are barreling through childhood…

Cover of "Guerrilla Learning: How to Give...In a nutshell, Guerrilla Learning means taking responsibility for your own education.And Guerrilla Learning is relaxing—knowing that you’ve made a lot of mistakes as a parent (and an educator) and that you’ll make a lot more, and that that’s okay—your kids are resilient; it’s not all up to you, and life will provide.

For young people, that includes thinking clearly and seriously about one’s own goals, interests, and values—then acting accordingly.

For parents, it means supporting your child in doing so.

It might mean giving your child a kind of freedom that may seem risky or even crazy at first.

And it also means continuing your own involvement in the world of ideas and culture, continuing to read, to think, to discuss, and to create–and being a walking, talking invitation to your kids to do the same.

Of Related Interest:

Raising Smart Girls Blog

An Unschooling Life

On “Freeing Children From Roles” ~ Faber + Mazlish

“No more imprisoning
of children’s hopes and dreams and possibilities
by locking them in with labels.

Who knows what any of us might become
if just one person believed in us enough to help us explore our unexplored selves.”

~How To Talk So Kids Can Learn at Home & in SchoolCover of "How To Talk So Kids Can Learn"
by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
with Lisa Nyberg & Rosalyn Anstine Templeton

to tv or not to tv: ¡al rescate!, diego!

to tv: Imagination, ¡Actívate! This morning I overheard K giggling and telling Diego to kick the ball. When I peeked in the room, he was talking…to a tiny picture…on the back cover of a Wonder Pets book.

Bonus: He can distinguish a llama from a horse and a camel; we’re learning Spanish; and I dig kids’ programming with primary goals.

not to tv: Um, I got nothing at the moment but reserve the right to update this.