A Mindful Literacy Approach for the Whole Family
Today, I am sharing ways to incorporate mindfulness into our reading practice. I’m excited to be featuring Dr. Seuss’ book Oh, The Places You'll Go! as it’s about exploring and dreaming with our purest intentions and goals—a journey into mindfulness.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was given to both Winter and Lennon as baby shower gifts. My hope is to bring the book along on our journey with the children, as they grow, learn and evolve. I was given the sweetest advice by another mama, to have each of my children’s teachers sign the book at the end of each school year, and to continue this tradition all the way to their high school graduation, where Perry and I give it to them as a graduation gift. This allows them to see the places they have been, each person who has had an impact in their lives along the way and to bring a renewed excitement for the places they will go.
I 100% agree the messaging of this book and just love that there’s space for their teachers to sign in the back throughout their years in school. I would highly recommend this as a baby shower gift as well as a graduation gift. It’s one that will be cherished forever!
A question I get asked often is how I bring mindfulness into my day-to-day rituals as a parent. It’s my hope that I’m setting up Winter and Lennon for embodying mindfulness and intentional connection that’s so frequently integrated into our daily routines.
Mindfulness is a practice of being present to the ‘here and now’. It's about accepting where you are, what you see, how you feel and what you think about what's happening in the moment of your experience!
Watching children at play is a great example of what mindfulness ‘looks’ like. When your child reads, he or she is just reading. When they play, they are playing. Your child isn’t concerned about the next thing or what happened moments before. Children immerse themselves into their tasks and allow the experience to guide them. The next time you need a reset, take a moment and observe your kids. They’re our most excellent teachers in being in the moment.
I invite you to try this reading activity. It’s a great way to practice mindfulness when connecting with your kids. The book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is an excellent reminder about the importance of being open to new experiences with an open heart and seizing the day with intention.
5 Ways to Infuse Mindfulness into Reading Activities with your Children
1. Physical connection. We have thoughts, feelings, and emotions upon every waking moment. To set up your mindfulness literacy experience, start with tapping into physical sensations.
Invite your child to sit on your lap or next to you where your bodies are physically touching. Then, notice what parts of your body are contacting theirs. Can you feel their back against your belly? Your chest? The bottom of your chin?
Notice the temperature of your skin at the point of contact. Are parts of you warm or cold? Do you notice any tingling sensations?
2. Deep Breath. Invite your child to take one big breath together before you read the book. As you sync your breath to theirs, you are helping both of your nervous systems attune to one another’s energy, connecting in a way that is grounding, present and synchronous.
If your child is too young to follow directions and breathe with you, verbalize what you are doing out loud to them. Say I am taking a big breath in (and inhale) and I am taking a big breath out (exhale).
If your child is old enough to participate, say what are you doing out loud and invite them to do it with you. Multiple breaths are okay!
3. Begin Reading. As you turn the pages, tune into more sensations with touch and sight. Notice the texture of the pages by rubbing your fingers over the book and observe how it feels. Do you see the colors in the pages that you noticed first? There's more detail in the illustrations when you truly explore them with fresh eyes. As you examine each page with your child, notice their little hands. Note every hand dimple, freckle, crease, and fingernail.
4. End with gratitude (surrounding the experience). Gratitude essentially “gladdens the heart.” So take some time to model this with your children and invite the older ones to join in. Examples could include phrases like: “Wow, I am so glad Dr. Seuss wrote this book. It was excellent”, “I am so grateful to be able to read with you.” “I felt connected to you when you sat in my lap while we read.”
5. Transition mindfully. Now before you shift to the next activity or a new book, think of one message from the book that you just read or an experience that you had while reading the book that you can bring into your day. This could be a cute image/illustration to think about later that may make you smile or a moment you had with your child (like the smell of their hair as you took a breath in tandem).
Hope this reading activity is a fun way for you to connect with your kids. Please share your experience—I’d love to hear about it!
This post was sponsored by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company committed to care-taking Theodor Seuss Geisel's (Dr. Seuss's) legacy to ensure all ages can experience the amazing world of Dr. Seuss.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Photography by Kyla Fear