Mindful Self-Care for Earlier Schooling: How Self-Care May Help Students Have the Emotional Competencies to Face Transitions at Younger Ages

Mindful Self-Care for Earlier Schooling: How Self-Care May Help Students Have the Emotional Competencies to Face Transitions at Younger Ages

Jacquelynne Anne Boivin (Bridgewater State University, USA) and Theresa Melito-Conners (Melrose Public Schools, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4435-8.ch002
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Abstract

This chapter explores the role that mindful self-care practices play in helping students transition into attending school for the first time. Self-care practices are described in this chapter based on a thorough review of the literature focusing on the benefits for young students in early childhood educational settings. A thorough review of the literature has provided insight into five areas that address the following topics: (1) defining the concept of mindful self-care, (2) the impact of mindfulness practices on self-care, (3) the significance of modeling in learning to be self-cared, (4) benefits of self-care in the early childhood transitionary period, (5) long-term benefits of implementing self-care skills as socio-emotional competencies in early childhood, (6) implications for earlier public schooling, (7) educating starting at birth.
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Introduction

“Take care of yourself” is a mantra that people tell one another regardless of their age, discipline, or country of origin. With a growing emphasis on self-care for teachers and professionals of all kinds who are characterized as experiencing chronic stress and high rates of burnout, what about our youngest citizens? As we grow and mature, we learn ways to be independent and increase our autonomy. Arguably, this begins when we transition from spending every day in our familiar, comfortable homes, to a new, foreign place dedicated to early childhood education. Walk into any preschool on the first day, and you will see varied expressions on children’s faces. Some are excited about the prospect of school, curious about the new adventure, and eager to meet new people. Other students are met with strong feelings of fear of the unknown, cautious of new faces, and an unwillingness to let go of their familiar loved ones for a matter of hours. But, if a parent tells the child, “Take care of yourself,” that may be seen as a little too intense of a request for a child of a mere five years old. Taking care of yourself, however, may be the skill-set that the child needs in order to overcome the intense feelings of sadness and longing after parents leave. Teaching kids self-care strategies can equip them with the tools they need to better handle future stressors in healthy and effective ways (Louis, 2018). When parents engage in self-care activities with their children, they are setting them up to make meaningful choices encouraging growth, stability, connection, and expression (Louis, 2018). This chapter focuses on the role self-care practices can play in helping early childhood students transition into a daily school routine.

This chapter is divided into seven main sections. These include (a) defining the concept of mindful self-care, (b) the impact of mindfulness practices on self-care, (c) the significance of modeling in learning to be self-cared, (d) benefits of self-care in the early childhood transitionary period, (e) long-term benefits of implementing self-care skills as socio-emotional competencies in early childhood, (f) implications for earlier public schooling, (g) educating starting at birth.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Regulation: To have control over one’s own actions, emotions, and thoughts.

Self-Care: Actively participating in activities that enhance our overall well-being, mental, and physical health. Must be practiced proactively for maximum benefits.

Emotional Competencies: A person’s ability to appropriately regulate how they are feeling freely and relate to others’ and respond to their behaviors and how they are feeling.

Mindfulness: Being present and aware of yourself in the moment.

Early Childhood: Birth to age eight.

Transitionary Period: The period of time when a child is adjusting and acclimating to a new setting with new people and activities. This often refers to the time when children are away from parents at school for the first time, or at the beginning of a new school year.

Attachment: When a child struggles to be separate from his or her parents for an extended period of time. This often refers to the child’s struggle of missing parents while at school.

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