It is exciting when BrainWise instructors seek to interest parents in learning the 10 Wise Ways! Jon Livengood, a Mental Health Professional and a new BrainWise instructor, is working with children in grades K-8. He introduced BrainWise in a Therapeutic Summer Program in Warren, Pennsylvania, and sent an email requesting help so that he could better provide support to parents.
“I am writing to inform you of the successes we (our Therapeutic Summer Program) are having using the BrainWise curriculum. The children have taken to it very well.
I am working on a short presentation for the parents and guardians to introduce to them the concepts of BrainWise and how the information their children are learning will be weaved into our treatment. In particular it will give a common language for them to use with their children forever for solving problems.”
This complements the long-term goal of BrainWise — to provide graduates with thinking skills that will help them live happy and productive lives. The drawing below by a BrainWise graduate in China beautifully illustrates how this works.
Ways to Help Parents Reinforce BrainWise
Here are suggestions and teaching aids that will help you involve parents in teaching and reinforcing the 10 Wise Ways with their children at home.
Hold a BrainWise Parent Session.
Present an overview of the program using the 10 Wise Ways posters or contact BrainWise for a PowerPoint presentation of the 10 Wise Ways. As you present each poster, ask the parents what they think the concept means before you give a short explanation.
After you explain each concept, introduce a short activity for each Wise Way. For example, for Wise Way #1, Wizard Brain over Lizard Brain, hand out brain worksheets in the curriculum, or a copy of the BrainWise CPR brain worksheet (contact info here to get BW CPR brain worksheet). Explain the five senses, the thalamus, the Lizard Brain and Wizard Brain. Have the parents draw a line connecting the thalamus to the Wizard Brain.
Here is an example that uses Wise Way #5, Ask Questions. Use the riddle in the curriculum, “She turned, looked at him, and ran.” This is an engaging activity and can be done quickly. Remember, if one of the parents asks the right question, say, “That’s a good question; we will get back to it.” Move on, and get more questions from the group before you reveal the answer.
As you review each wise way, have the parents draw a connection on their brain picture for each one. At the end, remind them that the connections disappear if the skill is not practiced!
- Distribute copies of the BrainWise problem-solving worksheets (in back of curriculum), BrainWise checklists (also in curriculum), or a copy of the BrainWise CPR problem- solving worksheet .
- Suggest that parents work with their children and create customized text reminders that remind them to use the 10 Wise Ways. The texts say things like “Use your Wizard Brain!” “Exit your Emotions Elevator!” “Think about the Consequences,” etc. Parents can randomly send the text reminders to their children.
- Encourage parents to integrate BrainWise into daily activities. Parents can use the BrainWise checklists (make copies from curriculum) to help their children analyze stories or movies. You can suggest that parents have their children identify and label Wizard Brain and Lizard Brain foods and that parents use the 10 Wise Ways to analyze their own problems, as well as help their children. Encourage the parents to apply the Wise Ways to current events as well as family behaviors. They can use BrainWise problem-solving worksheets to work through issues.
- Have parents and children create individual Constellations of Support that contain viable resources including pertinent humans, online sources, spiritual support, pets, etc. Draw or cut out pictures that remind them of their support systems, and glue or tape them onto their Constellations.
- Ask your PTO, the school, or parents to purchase the $15.00 companion book, How To Be BrainWise for each family.
- Encourage parents to create their own adaptations of the 10 Wise Ways to address family dynamics. Practicing using mantras is one strategy for lowering your Emotions Elevator, and Newsletter readers will remember that a family used “popcorn” as a mantra when emotions started skyrocketing. The absurd, but “silly connotations” word spoken during duress helped defuse volatile situations. Another family encouraged members to use “I” messages during dinner discussions.