Try New Things, Try Old Things New

By: Saadia Ahmad, DC Elementary School Program Coordinator

Photos courtesy of Saadia Ahmad

In summer 2017, DC Elementary School program team worked on coming up with 8 Truths for elementary youth. These Truths are based on the belief for creating team synergy, harmonious relationships and better understanding of ourselves and each other.

Try New Things, Try Old Things New is one of Elementary School program’s truths. As a youth or even as adults, often times we’re hesitant to try new things. Human beings are creatures of habit and having something constant in our lives seem comfortable and give us that sense of security. This sometimes can get in the way of being open to different experiences and adventures.

This Truth was created to remind youth that change is constant and that we should try to be open to new things and also try old things in new ways to explore, learn and grow. Our DC elementary school program started 4 weeks back (end of August) and this year we are doing just this; trying new things and old things new to self-regulate our emotions. 

At elementary school program, youth have been learning about emotional literacy as part of our mental health outcome for the past one year. This year we wanted to have an intentional space for youth where they can identify their emotions and find tools to self-regulate by taking a break from classroom activity or instruction time if need be. This space allows youth to make a choice that is 100% their own. This corner is also intentionally incorporated in our daily mindfulness time at the end of programs for youth to slow-down and prepare for dismissal. This let’s youth practice the idea of trying new things and old things in new ways to identify emotions and self-regulate.

Youth spent the first week of programs creating items that helps them calm down. Some items that are included in their mindfulness corner are;

  • MIND JARS: Youth made these jars filled with glue and glitter to soothe them when they feel stressed. Each jar was individualized to youth’s interest like color and choice of glitter, which results in creating unique swirling patterns that helps to focus, de-stress and relax. Youth also shared how our brain is just like these jars, when emotions take over, sometimes it’s hard to think clearly and we need to let the ‘glitter’ (emotions) settle down to proceed with our day to day tasks. 
  • SLIME: Slime is proven to be a great sensory play item. It helps in the development of motor skills and is a great way to explore different textures. Kneading and stretching of the slime results in de-stressing and is a great group play activity also. 
  • INDIVIDUALIZED FOLDERS: Youth also worked on creating individualized folders that include coloring pages, different yoga poses and  ‘How I’m Feeling Today’ pages in their folders, that they can use to identify their emotions and pick an activity of their choice to self-regulate. Youth love taking body breaks by stretching and doing yoga poses in between activities as a way for them to recenter their thoughts and better their mood. 
  • CALMING KIT: Each classroom has a calming kit that includes items like, play-doh, a class mascot, several store bought sensory items like fidget spinners, pipe cleaners, stress balls/squishies and conversational cubes that youth can use to start a conversation with their friends or play by themselves if they’d like to just reflect on their likes and choices. 

Some feedback from our youth that we got about how having an intentional mindfulness time is important to them;

“Having calming kits in the classroom are important if you’ve had a bad day or you’re stressed.”

– Sandy N

“Calming kits help me if I’m worried and it reminds me of home,”

– Daisy V

“Having mindfulness time is fun because it gives time with friends as I don’t see them during morning school.”

– Angela L

“Having mindfulness time at the end is important because it ends the day on a good note no matter how bad the day was.”

– Alexa L
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