Consciousness, Connections & Life Skills (CCLS)

What is CCLS?

This subject, originally called SCI or the Science of Creative Intelligence, has been part of the school since its inception and has gone through many changes over time. Eight years ago, there was a major overhaul of the curriculum based on alumni response. In 2018, the curriculum underwent a further change with the addition of SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) and Comprehensive Health lessons to the curriculum. The name of the subject changed from SCI to CCLS (Consciousness, Connections, and Life Skills) to reflect this change. To expand on the name: Consciousness (the understanding and experience of consciousness through Transcendental Meditation), Connections (between different areas of life; interdisciplinary), and Life Skills (practical skills useful to everyday life, including SEL and sexual health).

The mission statement of the school is: To create an innovative, consciousness-based educational environment, where students think deeply and become creative,project period maharishi school compassionate, contributing citizens of the world.

There are four components of CCLS that directly teach to this mission statement: SCI (Science of Creative Intelligence), SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), the Comprehensive Health Curriculum (called Rights, Respect, and Responsibility), and Positive Discipline. We also have incorporated Restorative Justice talking circles.

What is SCI?

SCI (Science of Creative Intelligence) is the study of creativity and intelligence and principles found in everyday life that allow us to make connections between different fields of study and human experience. SCI deals primarily with the experience and understanding of consciousness.

  • The experiential part of this subject is that all the students practice Transcendental Meditation as part of curriculum every day in the morning and afternoon. (Students begin practicing TM starting in 4th grade. From ages 4 to 10, the students practice a simpler technique that is preparation for sit down meditation. Included in this program is a series of yoga asanas (postures) and a simple breathing exercise which serves to prime the nervous system for meditation, pranayama.
  • The theoretical or intellectual component involves an examination of the nature of consciousness, the relationship of consciousness to the physical world and the laws of nature. This exploration of consciousness is age-appropriate and occurs at all grade levels throughout the school, beginning in Preschool with more concrete activities and becoming more complex and theoretical in upper school.

What is SEL?

SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) in our Upper School consists of five main competencies as formulated by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). SEL is implemented differently at various grade levels, including the Preschool, Lower School, Middle School and Upper School.

  • Self-Awareness: the ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior.
  • Self-Management: the ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations.
  • Social Awareness: the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
  • Relationship Skills: the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups.
  • Responsible Decision-Making: the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions.

Comprehensive Health Curriculum

We use the K-12 curriculum from Advocates for Youth called Rights, Respect, and Responsibility. This curriculum includes age-appropriate lessons that cover a wide range of health areas, including relationships and consent, STDs and contraception, dating abuse, etc. In Preschool, the students are taught early consent, boundaries, and becoming comfortable with using anatomically correct words to describe their bodies. In upper school, we do a couple lessons a month and design our own slide presentations to supplement the materials.

Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline is designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities. It teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for children and adults. In the summer of 2018, the school adopted Positive Discipline as part of our professional development program and invited a specialist to provide in-depth training. Our overall goal for positive discipline is to culture mutual respect between peers and adults, and to make sure all children are heard, respected, and intrinsically motivated.

  • In Preschool, the focus is on conflict resolution, but also includes understanding feelings, recognizing their own voice, making sure every child is heard, and maintaining boundaries, with class meetings or circles to facilitate communication.
  • In Lower School, the emphasis is on classroom management and conflict resolution.
  • In Middle School, communication skills and conflict resolution are the main focus.
  • In Upper School, many aspects of Positive Discipline (such as effective communication and problem-solving skills) are covered in the SEL curriculum and practiced in the classroom. Upper school also utilizes Restorative Justice talking circles and practices, which are much in line with Positive Discipline.

 

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The Sisterhood of the Girls Who Code

Starting a Girls Who Code Club in Fairfield, Iowa

Girls Who Code (GWC) is an international non-profit organization whose programs educate, equip, and inspire girls with computing skills they’ll need to pursue 21st-century career opportunities. Maharishi School student Shristi Sharma has been a self-taught coder since the 4th grade when she heard about a GWC club that had opened in the local public high school. Even though there were only 3 other kids at the time Shristi says, “It was the first time I had found other girls who were also doing something that I was interested in, and the club became a way of making new friends for me. When the club shut down I was very sad that I couldn’t continue to find this support group. That’s when I asked myself, why can’t I start my own club?”

Shristi found out that you have to be 18 to start a club and at this point, she was only 13 but felt strongly that she had the skill set necessary to teach coding. 

girls who code club maharishi school“I did something which is pretty uncharacteristic of me. I cold emailed the founder of GWC, Reshma Saujani, who is a huge celebrity in the tech world. I told her how even though I was too young, I had the skill set necessary to start my own club, and that there was a need for it because there wasn’t a single club within a 50-mile radius of Fairfield.”

Shristi’s desire to have a community of female coders, coupled with her exceptional ability to code, got the founder’s attention. She responded to Shristi’s email and gave her the contact person that would help bypass the rule of being 18 to start a club.

“I got to start my club! Our first supervisor was Sophia Blitz who was our math teacher at the time and also had software engineering experience, so it was a lot of fun. Now my co-facilitator is Anne McCollum, a Computer Science professor at Maharishi International University.”

Learning How to Lead

The club not only attracted girls from Maharishi School but some were traveling from surrounding towns to attend, as well as home schools and the local public school.

“I enjoyed meeting people from all around the area, we are open to anyone willing to travel. There’s a saying in the GWC organization, be a guide on the side, not sage on the stage. I took that to heart during my first year of teaching because it’s not about me lecturing them as much as it’s a collaboration. We teach each other and learn together.”

Each year the 6th-12th grade girls have a goal to create a project that benefits the local community in some way, while the 3-5th grade girls learn the fundamentals of computer science. Once they decide on a project they learn the necessary technology to build it.

“The first year we wanted to raise awareness about food insecurity and how much food goes to waste. We made an IOS Apple game, it was very simple. You have a trash can on the bottom of the screen, then there are fruits and hamburgers falling from the sky. The goal is to make sure the fruit doesn’t fall into the trash and every time you lose you’re faced with a statistic or fact about what you can do to decrease food insecurity and increase sustainability.”

“I had never made an IOS app before so I had to teach myself Swift, which is a programming language. Then I had to teach the other girls how to use it as well. We had to get verified and pay a $99 setup fee. Through GWC I learned about how to write grants and how to get funding.”

The Culture of Girls Who Code

For the 18 girls this year, it’s more than just a club. It’s a sisterhood. Not only do they learn complex coding languages but they celebrate holidays, and sometimes throw a party just because they feel like it! Shristi explains, “I’m a big foodie and I like to have snacks at every meeting. I think food brings people together, so every week we have a fun snack. It’s a club and extra circular but it’s become more than that. In GWC you find a group of friends. You meet people who you would never usually talk to. I’ve learned a lot about how to manage and work with different people.”

“The whole reason I’m doing this club is that; I’m a self-taught programmer and I understand how difficult it is to get yourself up and running on your own. I’m doing it because I like coding and I enjoy it, it’s a hobby of mine. As a girl in coding, you’re on a different playing field and it’s not always equal. There’s a lot of discrimination and prejudice. I’ve faced some of that too. GWC is about having a community of female coders that can support each other while learning a challenging subject.”

GWC exists to close that gender gap in the technology profession. Shristi explained that while younger girls are excited and curious about STEM-related fields, that interest is diminished when they become a teenager and are told: “this is not a field for girls, it’s a guy thing.” The whole point of GWC is to overcome this challenge and flip that thinking so more women are normalized in programming.

“We need more women in programming. Especially women of color, because technology has taken over the world. It’s pervasive in every single field, and being able to code and create those technologies is an extremely useful skill to have. It’s also important that we have diversity represented in the room when we’re coding because if we don’t, then we can’t cater to those populations in the end. Products and tools are being made that are not taking into account the female perspective. So that’s why I feel it’s important to emphasize diversity and create an environment for younger girls to thrive. That way they can feel supported enough to pursue this as an actual career opportunity.”

What Shristi learned from GWC

“I’ve had to work with all sorts of girls over the last four years and it’s been amazing for me to open up my bubble. I’m a naturally introverted person. Through GWC I’ve learned to lead in a way that I’m not overpowering others but I’m also not letting things stray off course. Especially with the younger girls because I have to come up with creative lesson plans that are fun and engaging. Taking incredibly difficult concepts and breaking them down into simple step-by-step solutions is a skill I’ve had to learn. That has helped me help them be more interested in what they’re doing and have fun.”

“Because of GWC, I’ve become more confident in my ability to have an impact. For example, there was a girl at the beginning of the year who was ready to give up. I worked through the issue with her and calmed down her frustrations. Once I got her to a successful point with her work, she then turned to her friends to help them out. It was such a powerful moment for me because I helped her and her immediate thought is to then help her friends with the same problem. I love that I can have a domino effect in that way.”

“Moments like that encouraged my participation in interact which is a Rotary club for youth. We do community service projects in Fairfield and internationally. I also joined the Student Council in high school and am president this year, so I’ve taken on a lot of leadership positions. Because of what I learned in GWC, I now enjoy the idea of being able to make small impacts that can snowball and help people on a grander scale.”

Future projects for GWC

This year because of covid the Fairfield community has been missing our “First Friday Artwalks” in the town square. The older GWC club decided that their community impact project this year will be to create a website where local artists can upload what they’ve been doing to an online gallery. The girls will also create a 3D map. This way you can virtually walk around the square and click on all the various shops to see coupons and different ways that you can support local businesses during this time.

Shristi says that the girls are currently learning the necessary skills to be able to create this and she hopes to be finished with it by the end of this school year.

“Through this whole process, we are learning industry-level concepts that real software developers use when they’re working in their companies. The main goal is to go through that process. No matter the end results, no matter how polished or perfect it is, we are proud to have a product that reflects what all that we have learned throughout the year.”

 

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To learn more about Girls Who Code watch this video:

Hands-On Learning in Middle School

Sheila Higgins gets Middle Schoolers hands dirty with hands-on learning

In my experience, middle school students naturally resonate with the open-ended structure of hands-on learning. They’re more excited about, engaged with, and invested in the learning process when they’re given the freedom to actively create their own knowledge, rather than passively consuming it.  Hands-on learning is an immersive experience that enhances a student’s ability to think critically and take ownership of their inquiries. Hands-on projects offer a safe space to make mistakes and learn organically through trial, error, and iterative thinking.

I love this approach to teaching because it creates the conditions for play, which is such a natural (and important!) way of engaging in authentic learning. While a hands-on model can take many forms, it’s essentially “learning by doing”–a practice that not only develops competency, but also strengthens the
qualities of curiosity, creativity, and collaboration within the learner. Students retain more
information about experiences that are memorable; for instance, investigating Newton’s Laws of Motion becomes much more engaging–and impactful–when they are physically explored in the context of a design challenge…rather than a traditional textbook lesson. In my 8th grade class, students design Balloon-powered Race Cars for a competitive engineering experience. Through this, their learning becomes a dynamic process in which scientific principles are explored in a real-world, immediate context.
I believe that learning is a lifelong process. Through hands-on projects, I hope to cultivate a sense of wonder and empowerment in my students’ approach to school.
Click here to watch Sheila’s Middle School class in action!

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Interviewing Science Teacher Asha Sharma

asha sharma

Asha demonstrating a lab to her students.

Learning about Asha

Growing up in a rural town in Rajasthan, India, I was a typical small-town girl. I cared for my family’s cattle and did many household chores, including making dung cakes for fuel. But I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to become more than a housewife. I wanted to learn about and explore the world of science. Even though girls were not encouraged to pursue education, I worked diligently to become the first girl in my large extended family of over 165 people to pursue a career in STEM and to attend a co-ed college. I graduated first division in my undergrad degree and was the only student selected from my state for the prestigious honor of working at AIIMS with one of India’s three electron microscopes.

Teaching science

asha teaching

Asha teaching.

When I worked at the Children’s House at Maharishi School, I loved watching the preschoolers explore the world around them with awe in their faces. They reminded me of my younger self and I felt elated to be able to feed their curiosity. As time went on, my role at Maharishi School changed, and now I’m teaching those same toddlers much more advanced topics in their high school science classes!

This year, I plan to focus on hands-on projects and labs rather than working through a textbook, because I know from my personal experience that exciting, tactile learning helps students retain the knowledge they’re learning for longer. They also enjoy seeing what they learned be put into action, allowing for a better understanding of the material.

maharishi school students wearing mask

Asha’s Science students working.

My long-term goals for teaching are to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with new skills and to give my students a memorable experience which will bring them joy, not sadness. Like everyone else, the biggest challenge I am currently facing is managing technology and tri-brid teaching (in-person, online, and remote). Because I teach 4 different classes and 3 different subjects where I keep switching between different classes and labs, I need multiple sets of technology (computers, webcams, microphones, etc.) for each period. I knew this would be a hassle both practically and monetarily, so I worked with our wonderful custodian to create a portable cart that transports all the necessary equipment between my classes. It’s like science on wheels!

Covid-19’s impact on her classroom

asha sharma science

Asha and her science cart, it says “Science is everywhere for everyone.”

As a teacher, when I think of school, I think of the joy of seeing students’ bright faces as they walk into my classroom, of watching the kids as they plan something mischievous (and maybe even joining in), and their excited faces as they work in the lab. When the Coronavirus hit, my lesson plans were thrown out the window and I was forced to find something fun and engaging that would prompt my students to hit the unmute button. Online, there were a limited number of projects and labs we could do, and I struggled to find the right balance between work and leniency in my lessons to fit everyone’s different workloads at home. So, it was a relief when we started hybrid learning, but in-person learning came with another set of problems.

Now, I had to figure out how to keep both students in person and online engaged all while dealing with new technology. I tackled the first challenge by joining many online webinars and finding many free online resources, like virtual labs. The second problem was a bit harder to fix due to the fact that I had four different rooms that had to be visually accessible to students, but with a little inspiration I came up with the solution of my science cart. Now, this cart is like my super handy tool and making my life way more easy and manageable.

To watch Asha in action, click here.

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Meet Our New Teachers: Michael Fitzgerald

Meet our new teacher

micehal fitzgerald computer teacherMichael Fitzgerald came to Fairfield in 2012 to attend MIU for his Bachelors in math with a computer science track and finished in 2016. Over the next several years he worked for a digital marketing company and went back to school to get a masters degree in software development. Michael saw that Maharishi School was looking for someone in tech support, however as soon as his skills became evident to the administration, we realized he was overly competent for the job. He was asked to teach a computer course, which he has now introduced to the middle school students as Technological and Digital Literacy 101.

 

What is Technological and Digital Literacy?

This is not your traditional computer science course. Technological and Digital Literacy focuses less on why computers do what they do but how to computer lab at schooluse and manipulate what’s in them for efficacy in learning. TDL is a class that teaches students how to interact in the tech world and use what’s already available in order to become fluent in technology. This is so important as we go further into schooling entirely online. Michael explains, “this course will prepare you for life. I look at this course as a woodworking, or home economics class, because once you learn that skill you will have it for the rest of your life. The more tech literate you become, the more you will understand new technologies with ease.”

 

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Meet Our New Teachers: Amie Saine

Meet Alumni Amie Saine!

new teacher alumni amie saine

Amie leading a  yoga to class.

Amie was born in Gambia and moved to the United States when she was 14 years old to attend Maharishi School. After Amie graduated, becoming an alumni in 2015, she enrolled at Maharishi International Univeristy. There she completed her schooling in 2019 with a degree in business. Amie says,  “After graduating, I had a modeling contract with BMG model and talent agency in New York City. I moved to NYC for almost a year, but then I ended up getting very sick in January 2020. I decided to move back to Fairfield in February in order to focus on my health and live with my parents. Here, I am now teaching kids and having a lot of fun.”

Amie was also a teachers assistant for the fitness and health class at MIU where shea learned how important it is to have fun while doing physical activity. She explains “having fun motivates students that don’t feel comfortable to feel comfortable. In my P.E class I try to make sure my students are happy and excited while doing an activity because having total wellness is the main purpose of my classes.”

alumni teaching yoga

Teaching our students to do tree pose. 

Teaching with covid

While teaching during covid can be difficult, I imagine teaching a physical education class would pose many obstacles to overcome. Amie says, “To be honest, it is very challenging sometimes because most students forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Sometimes, when they are having a lot of fun, the students just want to touch and connect with their friends, but we can’t do that in these difficult times. We play sports that involve touching, so sometimes we have to get really creative with activities just to make it more 2020 friendly without physical contact.” Teaching the kids at Maharishi School brings Amie so much joy and we are so lucky to have an alumni like her to focus on the health and well being of our students!

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Why is STEM education important?

What is STEM

Why is STEM important?

STEM education helps break the traditional gender roles by increasing the amount of women and minorities that are able to access STEM-related careers.

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” –National Science Foundation

STEM at Maharishi School

I got to speak with Kaye Jacob who is both a teacher and academic director of the Middle and High school students here at Maharishi School. Her thoughts on STEM skills are that they need to be seen as ends in themselves but for most students they are means to an end.  In other words, knowing how to use technology to access information and incorporate it into your life and work is essential to any student.

kaye jacobs talks about STEM

Kaye Jacob

“The S in STEM is apparent when the 7th graders drop containers out of windows to see if the egg inside will break or not–and equally when the upper school rocketry students send a rocket up into the air with the same objective–to protect the “payload” (an egg) which actually represents a human being in space travel.
I am writing this in my English class as three students are collaborating from their homes (one of them in Ecuador) in a Zoom break-out room and the rest are working in small groups on presentations for class tomorrow. They are sharing documents and resources related to a literature topic (Transcendentalism) but updating it with videos and powerpoint presentations.  To me, that is the T in STEM applied to my subject area.
I also like to emphasize that STEM should actually be STEAM, because the A needs to represent Art.  This year, we are offering traditional studio art with Susan Metrican to our Upper school students and also a more technical course in digital photography with Camille Morehead, who has a graphic design background.  We are hoping to combine forces with various applications of technology and art design in the future.”
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Have You Heard Of Green Organic?

The boarding meals at our school will make you drool

maharishi school alumni brea hallen

Whitney Kemac and Brea Hallen

Maharishi School boarding students have been eating in style with seasonal, vegetarian, meals delivered to them by Green Organic. Green Organic is a local and sustainable catering service created out of Fairfield, Iowa. They provide regularly scheduled meals with the convenience of delivery right to your door!

Green Organic has a passionate commitment to sourcing fresh, organic and local ingredients.  Green Organic is dedicated to seasonal cuisine and sustainable lifestyle. They’re doing their part to improve the environment by utilizing reusable glass containers, wooden boards for catering and reusable bags.

The founder, Whitney Kemac and sous chef, Brea Hallen (who is also a Maharishi School alumni) have answered some questions about catering to our boarding students. You can find more pictures of their delicious food on their Instagram @greenorganicfairfield.

How did you come up with the idea for Green Organic?

boarding meals

Green Organic started when all the restaurants in Fairfield shut down during COVID 19. A family friend posted an ad in the Next Door App looking for homemade meals. Having just moved to Fairfield in December and looking for work, this was something I was excited about and could do while taking care of two young children.

I was able to cook and deliver homemade meals with my kids and maintain minimal contact with my client.  I created a versatile menu of organic ingredients, based on the client’s taste and using whatever I could find from the empty grocery aisles. I created signature sauces, dishes and recipes that would be delicious and healthy-using local ingredients I was able to source during a time when sourcing food was a little scary.

I asked if the client wanted it in some sort of Tupperware and he said “Oh, no no don’t put it in plastic”, so I delivered in a reusable glass container the client could just clean and set out at the next delivery time.  Very quickly my experience with hospitality and culinary arts, love and passion for food came through in the dishes- and word of mouth set off a chain reaction.  I now deliver for 30 special clients, honoring their dietary restrictions the best I can. I am so grateful to have found an amazing team who have come together and believe in the future of Green Organic.

What sort of meals do you have planned for the boarding students?

green organic meals

Our Catering Manager & Sous Chef Brea Hallen and I meet together, test and brainstorm new dishes and flavors we think all would enjoy. The students receive meals from our Fall Menu which you can also check out on our website www.GreenOrganicFairfield.com as well as additional meals we come up with that we think they would enjoy.  They also receive an organic dessert on Thursdays which is fun!

Where do your ingredients come from for those meals?

We source produce from Bob’s Barn (who sources special organic bulk produce for us), Stout’s Market, Fairfield Farmers Market, RPA Garlic Farm, Jorge’s Organics, Tim’s Garden at 8th & Grimes, our Greenhouse at the Depot, our family and friend’s gardens/backyards, Hyvee & Everybody’s Whole Foods.  Foraging is a constant process, but our mission is to support local farmers and work with seasonal, fresh ingredients.

We have a very culturally diverse group of students in the boarding program, do you plan on green organicexperimenting with meals from all over the world to accommodate this?

Definitely, creating a multicultural culinary experience is REALLY important to me.  Since moving from New York City where you can really get that experience right at your fingertips, it was something I missed a lot from my hometown.

The concept for the food is Farm-to-Table World Cuisine, at Green Organic we call it “Farm-to-Door” since most of our meals for Meal Delivery and Catering are delivered. I believe food brings people together and a significant way to connect and learn about different cultures is through food.

Brea and I are working on a little questionnaire for the students to get to know a little more what kind of foods they miss the most from their homes.


Do you feel like Green Organics is gaining support from the Fairfield community?

Green Organic was truly created for the Fairfield community. I honestly never pictured myself becoming a Chef, I don’t have classically trained culinary experience.  But I am very passionate about hospitality and the food/beverage industry.  I am always learning and I am very grateful to have a catering to maharishi boarding studentjob during this time when so many people in the industry are struggling so much.

I was really impressed with how abundantly produce grows in Fairfield coming from a concrete jungle, and my feeling was-Fairfield really needs a Farm-to-Table dining experience.  The delivery option has really seemed essential for many of my clients who either don’t cook, or want to get a break from cooking.  Thank you Fairfield, I am honored to provide you with this service, and I only hope the business continues to grow and reach more of the community.

 

Find out what a day in the life of a boarding student is like, click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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To read more about boarding at Maharishi School, click here.

NY Times Article: Dear Teenagers, Here’s How to Protect Your Emotional Well-Being

Teen health is an ongoing conversation that’s so important to have during this unprecedented time. Our teens can feel especially vulnerable and emotionally strained during times of isolation. We love this article written by Lisa Damour posted on the New York Times about teen health that we had to share it with you!

Guidance for teenagers on staying steady in the turmoil of the pandemic.

Following my most recent column offering adults a 2020 back-to-school list for teens’ emotional well-being, several teenage commenters asked that I address them in the same way that I address their parents: “as intelligent people who have the tools to support themselves and their loved ones through this trying time.”

Dear teenagers, you are right. And I’m so glad you asked. Here’s my guidance on what you can do to keep yourself steady in the turmoil of the pandemic.

Make the Most of Your Emotional Superpowers

Teenagers experience feelings more intensely than adults do, both negative and positive ones. While this amplifies the psychological discomfort you’re certainly experiencing right now, it also means that you get more out of pleasures and delights. These days the only bright spots many of us are finding are small ones, and for a lot of adults, these don’t feel very satisfying. But for you, small comforts and joys are more comforting and joyful than they are for adults. So, when your mood needs a lift, make the most of this emotional superpower.

What makes this power work for you will be highly personal. You might enjoy video games, pumpkin spice treats, cuddling your pet, being in nature, listening to music, going for a run or doing something else altogether. The adults in your life might not quite grasp how happy it makes you to watch your favorite movie for the umpteenth time. That’s OK. Just know what gives you a boost right now and enjoy it fully.

Trust Your Feelings

When you are worried, sad, stressed, frustrated or anything else, trust that you are almost certainly having the “right” feeling. I say this because you have been raised in a culture that is unnecessarily fearful of unpleasant emotions and which may have given you the impression that emotional distress invariably signals fragile mental health. This is not true. In upsetting times, feeling upset proves, if anything, that your emotions are working exactly as they should. You are in touch with reality — a painful one though it is — and attuned to your circumstances.

When your mood is good, trust that too. With the world off its axis, you might wonder if it’s all right to let yourself feel at ease. It is. Should you notice that calm emotional waters follow stormy waves of distress, don’t assume that you have somehow lost touch. In all likelihood, you have processed and moved past a painful mood, largely by allowing yourself to have it.

Count on Your Psychological Circuit Breakers

Sometimes we helpfully make room for unpleasant feelings. Other times psychological defenses kick in on their own like circuit breakers to protect us from emotional overload. Though psychological defenses can be problematic, such as when people use denial to ignore a painful truth, they are often healthy and can help us regulate how much of an upsetting situation we take on all at once.

For instance, you might notice that the anger you feel about your disrupted school days gives way to an appreciation for your growing self-sufficiency. Shifting from exasperation to rationalization maintains your connection to what’s happening while reducing the emotional charge. Using humor — say, when you are inspired to find inventive ways to crack up your classmates to manage the sheer frustration of sitting through online classes — works the same way. Here’s the point: Your mind is built to help you through this hard time. Put stock in its ability to keep your emotional current at manageable levels.

Have a Basic Plan for Mental Health Maintenance

Plenty of sleep and physical activity will improve your mood, reduce your stress, and increase how much you like yourself and other people. Enjoy the company of people who soothe and energize you. Steer clear of those who leave you feeling stirred up or spent.

Distribute your mental energy with care. So much will go sideways this year, and you have every right to resent the challenges and frustrations of Covid-19. Allow yourself time to be upset. Then try to direct the bulk of your energy toward that which you can control. What kind of friend do you want to be this year? What do you want to learn and get better at? What can you do to support others? Focus on what remains within your power, because exercising that power will help you feel better.

Understand When to Worry

If distress is to be expected, when is it time to worry? A first reason would be if your unwanted emotions start to feel like bad roommates: constantly around and taking the fun out of everything. It’s one thing if sadness, anxiety, irritation, outrage or grief stop by for a visit. But it’s another if they move in or linger for more than a day or two.

A second reason for concern would be if you find yourself routinely using unhealthy strategies to numb or contain painful feelings. Avoiding everyone, being cranky all the time, misusing substances, or sacrificing sleep to binge on social media may bring relief in the short term but create bigger problems down the line.

Finally, you should be worried if you feel you might harm yourself or do not feel safe in some other way. Should you be concerned about your own well-being, or that of a friend, reach out to a trusted adult. Tell a parent, a counselor at your school, or any other grown-up you can count on to take the situation seriously and mobilize the proper supports.

These are incredibly difficult times that are emotionally taxing for everyone. But teenagers should not underestimate the value of their own special strengths. Understanding, harnessing and protecting your mental health resources will serve you well now, and for the rest of your life.

 

Maharishi School Children’s House

preschool childrens house elyse soaresDid you know the preschool incorporates Montessori & Positive Discipline?

Welcome to the Maharishi School Children’s House! In this blog you will find some basic information as well as new and updated protocols regarding preventative measures against Covid-19 in the preschool.

The preschool offers multi-age classrooms consistent with the Montessori pedagogy. The toddler class consists of children who are 18 months to 3 years old. The 3-5 class includes children aged three to six which include Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten.

The cornerstone of your child’s social-emotional growth focuses on supporting each child in becoming self-aware, autonomous, contributing members of our world. The Montessori Method and Positive Discipline go hand-in-hand in developing these important skills in our school community. In the Children’s House and also in grades Kindergarten through 2 in the lower school, Positive Discipline is practiced by all teachers. The building blocks of Positive Discipline are:

  1. Mutual respect
  2. Understanding the belief behind the behaviorpreschool children's house montessori
  3. Effective communication
  4. Understanding a child’s world
  5. Discipline that teaches rather than punishes
  6. Focusing on solutions rather than punishment
  7. Encouragement
  8. Children do better when they feel better
  9. Connection before correction
  10. Contribution

Lynn Shirai is the Director of the Children’s House as well as the Lower school. In her monthly newsletter to the parents Lynn comments, “As the new Children’s House director I am happy to report that all is running smoothly. The children are happy, mask-wearing, Montessori learners that are finding joy in being with their friends and teacher-guides every day. Dr. Beall, our school co-head, visited the classrooms last week and was so impressed with the children as they were very naturally wearing masks indoors while busy with their Montessori activities.”

Taking precautions in the preschool

When entering the school area all children will get their temperature taken, temperatures at 100 degrees or higher will be sent home.

mask wearing children maharishi schoolMasks

Teachers will be required to wear masks while inside, or while down on children’s level outside. Face shields are recommended, especially for toddler teachers. Masks will be required while inside for all children 3+. Masks will not be required for children under 3.

Hand washing 

hand washing maharishi school coronavirus

Child size bathrooms in the preschool.

Children will wash hands upon arrival, before and after eating, when entering from outside, when seen with hands in mouth/nose, and a minimum of every 2 hours. Washing is completed with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Social distancing

Drop off times are arranged by class so that there are no traffic jams between parents and children. Transitions into the school house for class will be staggered to avoid congestion in the hallways.

Changes to the environment

The children each have a cubby where they can store their shoes and backpacks. Cubbies will be outside of the classrooms in the hallways so children do not enter the classroom with outside shoes and backpacks. There is only one child per table in all classrooms, unless the table is very large. The classrooms with ages 3 and up will have sanitizing stations for the children to clean their own work, under adult supervision as needed. Water and soap will be used for plastic, metal, and glass materials and natural disinfectant spray for wooden materials. When a toddler completes a work, they will return it to a special shelf to be cleaned between use. A teacher will sanitize the work items and return them to the shelves with available work.

maharishi school montessoriThe protocol for Maharishi School’s Children’s House was created with reference to DHS requirements and CDC recommendations, and with approval from IDPH

To find out how more about the Children’s House, click here.

Please contact admissions@maharishischool.org immediately to get started on your application and schedule an interview today!