Our Mindfulness Minute Series (5 of 6) looks at the middle school years. As mentioned in the the 2nd installment of this series, the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is highly critical as this is where 85% of the human brain is formed and hopefully healthy, secure and consistent attachment is developed between the child and their caregiver(s). The middle school years are also a critical stage because of the biological and psychological development of your student/child. This is a stage where our ʻōpiʻo (youth) might be vulnerable and key protective factors are needed.
Kūkulu Kumuhana is a framework for Native Hawaiian wellbeing, created by kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) through the Liliʻuokalani Trust. It was a lifeline for many during the peak of the COVID-19; the stress of uncertainty, the challenges with distance learning and the isolation that compromised “safety and connection” two keys in trauma-informed care for many people. PACES Connection Hawaiʻiʻs next series will feature Kūkulu Kumuhana, but today, we will feature one activity that might cultivate pono (balance) in your middle school ʻōpiʻoʻs life.
ʻĀina Momona, “Healthy lands and people; being in balance with nature” is great practice for everyone, but as we focus on middle-schoolers, how can we promote connection with nature for our ʻōpiʻo and structure it as a protective factor? If your middle-schooler enjoys participating in nature walks or beach outings- fantastic! If your middle school ʻōpiʻo needs a little encouragement, what if we pair these nature outings with clean-up efforts and get their friends and classmates involved ? This is a great strategy to get middle-schoolers out and active. Remember, “safety and connection” are key cornerstones for TIC. At this developmental stage, many middle-schoolers are seeking peer acceptance as well as trying to establish their own identity and authority. With this in mind, provide the prompt and guidelines for the activity and work with your middle school keiki to plan the event.
When I was a middle school teacher and as I work with educators in my current role, I always promote open-ended questions when debriefing an actvity. “How did the walk make you feel?” “How did the walk help you in being a steward of the ʻāina?” Best of luck and please share other strategies you have for engaging our middle-schoolers and promoting “safety and connection.”