TRITON BULLETIN BOARD


No more posts
Blog-Image-13.png?fit=1200%2C628&ssl=1

March 22, 2021 About Us0

Does your child understand personal space? Do their friends? Young children can sometimes be unaware of what personal space is, and why it’s important for interacting with others. We know we need to teach children about personal space if we see them invading others’ personal space, or showing signs of discomfort or stress when their space is invaded. 

 

When we talk to kids about personal space, using a metaphor can help them understand why we need it. For instance, when we see cars on the highway, they are all moving together and yet they never come close enough to touch each other. They each give each other enough space so everyone feels safe. People are the same way!

 

Our Education Specialist, Julianne Bigler, gives some examples of games and props anyone can use to illustrate personal space in an engaging way for kids. 

 

Provide a concrete representation

Use a carpet square, mat, or hula hoop to represent a child’s personal space. Tell them to imagine there is a bubble surrounding their space that only they can be inside. Children can explore the bounds of their space in many different ways. Tell the child to imagine they have a paintbrush in their hand and they are going to paint the inside of their bubble. When they get to “paint” their bubble how they want, this gives them a sense of ownership around it, making them more likely to preserve it.

 

Bring awareness to their body

While inside their personal bubble, have children bring awareness to their bodies by acting out movements that explore high, medium, and low, as well as what their body can do inside their bubble. They can show how high and low they can get, how far their arms reach and legs stretch while remaining inside their bubble. Children can pretend they are plucking a star from the sky, playing a board game, or picking a flower. The song “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is a perfect song for this activity. Bring as much fun into this as possible! The more differentiated motor skills they practice, the more control they begin to gain over their body. 

 

Play personal space games

“Shrinking Room” is a game that requires children to adjust their bodies to accommodate for personal space in a changing environment. Children hold hoops and must be careful not to touch anyone else’s hoops while playing. The adult acts as a moveable wall with their arms out to the side. When they take a step forward, there is less space available, and the children must move so that they and their neighbors have enough space. 

A modified “Red Light, Green Light” can also teach personal space. Have one child who will demonstrate their need for personal space stand at one end of the room, and the others stand at the opposite end. One child advances (not running) toward the one who is “it”. The child who is “it” will hold up their hand in a “stop” signal when the child walking toward them gets close enough. To gauge the appropriate amount of space, use a carpet mat, or establish the “arm’s length away” rule. 

Some children may struggle more than others with personal space due to vestibular processing difficulties. The vestibular system helps our bodies detect and interpret movement. Children with a vestibular dysfunction struggle with motor skills and can present as clumsy. These children tend to invade others’ personal space without realizing the discomfort it causes other people. Simply telling a child with these difficulties what they “should” do to respect this space is not effective. Presenting a physical model for them develops the vestibular awareness they need. The following exercise can bring awareness to personal space by experiencing their own space being invaded. 

 

While the child stands inside a small hoop they are holding, have someone else come inside their hoop. Note how the child responds. Do they back up, shy away, or in other ways establish personal space? This exercise gives them a good metric of the space to give others. If they are uncomfortable when their space is invaded, this is a perfect time to help them advocate for themselves by requesting space or backing away. 

 

Using a social story is a tool many children find helpful. A personal story should outline what personal space is, what good personal space looks like, social cues for a child to look for to determine whether or not they are personal space invaders, and what to do when they need personal space.

 

One aspect these activities do not address when first teaching personal space, is that our bubbles fluctuate. After a child has mastered their space with concrete objects, teach them how our abstract bubbles shrink and expand depending on who we’re with. Talk with your child or student about the differences in how close we get with our family, friends, acquaintances, and community members. Role playing can make this a fun to practice while in a safe space. When implementing this task, take turns playing different people the child may encounter any given day. 

 

This visual from Social Skilled Kids illustrates how personal space changes depending on who we are with. This is a helpful visual to hang in a classroom for children to reference when they need.

Watch Julianne’s talk on personal space here!


Blog-Image-12.png?fit=1200%2C628&ssl=1

March 16, 2021 Social/ Emotional0

 

Mindfulness is a word we hear often. We may associate it with relieving stress, finding rest in our busy lives, or practicing presence in the midst a demanding schedule. How many of us picture it as a practice for children? Yoga instructor, Ellie Polsky, knows the importance of mindfulness practices for people of all ages. In Bloom Yoga 4 Kids, Ellie teaches children and teens mindfulness and emotional intelligence practices to implement into their everyday lives. Beginning these practices at a young age is key to maintaining a healthy, balanced mind throughout our lives. 

Through mindfulness practices–yoga, breathing exercises, creative expression–we release emotions that build up inside of us. For so many children and teens, finding a healthy way to release stress is not something that comes naturally. Stress often manifests as overreactions, withdrawing, talking back, emotional outbursts, and many other ways that leave everyone involved feeling defeated. 

Ellie focuses on using calisthenics and breathing to bring awareness to our body. In stress, we are often consumed with our emotional experience and lose our awareness of our body. This can lead to emotional takeover, or what we may explain as, “I just wasn’t thinking clearly.” Practicing aligning our mind to our body (even when we’re not especially emotional) brings us back to a state of emotional clarity and balance. Ellie explains, “As we stretch and breathe with the stretch, we focus on the breath. We get out of our heads and into our bodies. In this way, our bodies, minds, and spirits come into alignment.”

A couple yoga poses children can try at almost any time are Child’s Pose and Rock Pose.

Child’s Pose

From a kneeling position, plant your hands to the Earth making a tabletop with your back, and your hands and knees as the legs of the table. Touch your big toes together making a “V” shape with your legs. Move your hips backwards toward your toes then reach your hands away from your shoulders keeping them on the ground. Now touch your forehead to the ground; and breathe. 

Rock Pose 

Bring your arms back like you’re a rock on the ground. Sit on your heels, pressing on the buttocks nerves. Keep the spine straight, and take some nice breaths feeling yourself melt into the ground.

Ellie recommends the following breathing exercise a child can do any time they feel stressed. 

“Maybe you’re taking a test and you need to relax and breathe it out in your chair. Bringing your feet to the ground, sitting up tall, put one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly. As you take a breath in, count to five at whatever pace you’d like, making sure your chest is above your belly. Count again as you breathe out. Doing those a few times shifts your awareness out of your head and into your body. It opens up the heaviness that you may feel in your chest, and flows the movement from your chest to your belly.”

Mindfulness practices go far beyond yoga. Ellie teaches children tools in the practice of yoga that can be utilized in everyday life. Here are some practices that parents can teach children in everyday tasks:

Meal time: What are five tastes or textures you can identify while eating? Sweet, spicy, salty, squishy? What does it smell like? What does it feel like on the tongue?

Taking a walk: Take breaks throughout the day by taking a walk. Look for objects with certain attributes while walking to increase awareness of your surroundings (e.g. five things that are green). Try stopping and smelling plants, and expressing gratitude for the things around you. 

Mindfulness involves more than one practice. Bloom Yoga 4 Kids incorporates journaling, art, and dance as a conduit for emotional balance. Using these art forms as daily practices for the simple purpose of emotional release–rather than a skill they must improve–contributes to a child’s emotional health. Help them find a practice that inspires them, so that each day it will be something they return to with enthusiasm. 


MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to provide a multisensory educational care platform for students, while providing support and coaching for their families. We use a team approach to provide efficient and effective services, helping special needs children to thrive.

Recent Posts