Mindful Mondays is a weekly series led by IUSD administrators, teachers and staff to help students cultivate the attitudes, skills and knowledge to become resilient and resourceful learners, who are able to adapt and demonstrate perseverance and optimism as they face academic and personal challenges. Mindful Mondays are also designed to foster awareness among students and families about available mental health, wellness and academic resources and supports in place and how to access them. Weekly topics include mental health and wellness, growth mindset, managing stress, school and home life balance, social wellness and connectedness, healthy habits and much more.
In addition to this webpage, Mindful Mondays can be viewed on IUSD's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites. For more resources, visit our Prevention and Intervention webpage at iusd.org/Prevention and/or our School Counseling webpage at iusd.org/Counseling.
Sept. 23, 2022: Superintendent Walker's Mindful Mondays introduction video provides a preview of this new series, including IUSD's commitment to creating connections with our community and supporting the social emotional and mental health needs of our students.
Sept. 26, 2022: The Prevention and Intervention Department's Mental Health Supervisor Kelly Alexander and Psychologist Marci Russell share three strategies for supporting resilient students, including taking an active role in students' learning and social emotional wellness, developing a growth mindset, and knowing who and how to reach out to for supports.
Additional Resources: Growth Mindset for Parents by MindsetKit.org, Even Geniuses Work Hard by Carol Dweck, Mindset by Carol Dweck, IUSD Prevention and Intervention, IUSD Middle and High School Counselors, CDC’s Positive Parenting Tips by Age Group
October 3, 2022: This week’s Mindful Monday is focused on maintaining balance. Jeffrey Trail Middle School Counselors Julianne Jong and Michelle Trapp, along with JTMS students, share tips for managing busy school schedules. In addition to asking for help from teachers, counselors, school mental health staff or other trusted adults, students should also practice healthy sleep, exercise, and nutrition habits, while taking advantage of mindfulness apps and don’t forget to have fun with friends and family.
Additional Resources: iusd.org/Prevention, iusd.org/Counseling, CHOC’s 7 Stress Relief Techniques for Kids, Help Children and Teens Manage Their Stress, visit myplate.gov for healthy nutrition information and resources, UCI Health for nutrition tips by age group, healthychildren.org for healthy sleep habits by age, the Calm app and the Smiling Mind app.
Oct. 17, 2022: This week’s Mindful Monday is focused forming healthy digital habits for students and families as part of Digital Citizenship Week. Director of Education Technology, Harmony Briscoe and Coordinator of Education Technology, Shaney Valencia share three important tips to help students be strong digital citizen. This includes setting screen time limits, developing rules for transparent device use, and having an open dialogue about how to handle negative content if encountered.
Additional Resources: Digital Citizenship in IUSD, support.iusd.org for range of student and family resources, the Information Technology Department’s Digital Citizenship webpage, Mindful Monday post with more resources, IUSD’s Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, and Common Sense Media
Oct. 24, 2022: This week, Community Support Mental Health Specialist Shalonda Ibrahim-Abubakar is sharing some important tips for managing stress so students can be at their best. The tips include: Spending time with people who support you, doing things that bring you joy, setting boundaries, being kind to yourself, establishing a routine and asking for help. Click here to read the full News Center post.
Additional Resources: CHOC Managing Anxiety and Stress, American Psychological Association – Talking With Your Children About Stress, National Institute of Mental Health – Five Things You Should Know About Stress, Coping Strategies Worksheet, 30 Things You Can Do For Your Emotional Health, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, iusd.org/Prevention, iusd.org/Counseling
Oct. 31, 2022: In this week’s Mindful Monday, our Portola High School counseling team is sharing tips for effectively managing time to help reduce stress. Managing time effectively means finding balance between your responsibilities, while taking care for yourself, spending quality time with loved ones, and doing fun activities or hobbies. Learning how to say "no" when your plate is full is also key. The tips in this video are designed to support students of any age and their families. Click here to read the full post in the News Center.
Additional Resources: After School Activities: Pros and Cons of Filling Your Kids’ schedules from CHOC, Age-by-Age Teaching Kids Time Management by Scholastic.com, Tips for managing homework from Hoag Medical Group, Childhood Stress: How Parent Can Help from CHOC
Nov. 7, 2022: As part of World Kindness Week, this special Mindful Monday is focused on the importance of kindness in supporting child development, mental health, overall wellness and creating a kinder community around us. Our Early Childhood Learning Center Principal Robin Hunter and School Support TOSA Melissa Zakhar are joined by some of our youngest Caring Cubs to share important reminders with our community. They know kindness is about being nice, caring for your friends and family, sharing, helping others and forming social connections.
Additional Resources: Whether following the advice of our ECLC students on and off campus, or picking up trash, donating items of clothing to a shelter or finding ways to volunteer in your community, there is a much you can do to make a difference. To learn more, visit the Orange County Department of Education’s ongoing 1 Billion Acts of Kindness campaign and don’t forget to log your acts of kindness by visiting Kindness1Billion.org.
Nov. 14, 2022: In this week’s Mindful Monday, Ulises Garcia, Coordinator of College and Career Readiness, focuses on the importance of celebrating small achievements along the way to achieving larger goals. When we simply look at accomplishing the end goal, it can feel overwhelming or out of reach. Breaking down tasks and projects into steps and recognizing our progress not only fosters self-confidence, resiliency and overall success but it can lower stress and serve as a powerful motivator for students.
This week, stop to think about three wins, big or small, and celebrate your progress! You can do this by:
- Be in the moment and identify your win(s)
- Get excited about your progress
- Share your wins with family or friends
- Use the positivity of your progress to propel you to the next step or goal
Nov. 21, 2022: As we head into the Thanksgiving break, IUSD’s Director of STEM Bob Curley is sharing the importance and the neuroscience of gratitude for this week’s Mindful Monday. By focusing on gratitude and tuning into the positive, we activate and strengthen the part of our brain that responds to interpersonal bonding, empathy and positive social interactions, contributing to social connectedness and happiness.
During the busy and often stressful holiday season we can reduce stress and increase happiness by taking just 20 seconds each day to think about what we are grateful for. The ripple effect not only benefits ourselves but also those around us. Over the break, take 20 seconds to think about someone you appreciate and share your thoughts with them, so they too can have a positive experience.
Additional Resources: The Happiness Advantage and the Practical Science of Lasting Happiness
Nov. 28, 2022: The arts not only have academic benefits but long lasting social and emotional benefits for students of any age. In this week’s Mindful Monday, Northwood High School Instrumental Music Teacher, Ben Case explores the benefits of creativity.
Whether it’s music, theater, dance or the visual arts, creative pursuits can relieve stress, be an outlet for creative expression, help us understand the world around us, give us tools for positive change, and connect us with others, while fostering a sense of belonging by being a part of something greater than ourselves. Click here to read more.
Dec. 5, 2022: In this week’s Mindful Monday, Christine Guerrero, a Mental Health Supervisor for IUSD’s Prevention and Intervention team is sharing tips for how students and families can access mental health supports and resources, especially during the busy and often stressful holiday season.
A good place to start is connecting with your school’s psychologist, elementary resource counselor, counselor, mental health specialist, a teacher or other trusted adult. Also, visit our Prevention and Intervention and Counseling webpages at iusd.org/Prevention and iusd.org/Counseling. Both sites include a variety of resources and supports.
Additional Resources: Irvine Family Resource Center, Care Solace, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, crisis and suicide prevention helplines and services, Staff directories, Irvine Parent Education Program, Community resources and support links, Academic counseling and tutoring resources, and College and career readiness information
Dec. 12, 2022: As the holidays approach, our Director of Literacy Jackie Guy and our English Language Arts Coordinator Rebecca Nakagawa wanted to share some tips for relieving stress through the power of reading for this week’s Mindful Monday.
A Sussex University study reports that reading for as little as 6 minutes was shown to reduce stress levels by nearly 70 percent, making it as effective as taking a walk or engaging in other activities to alleviate stress. Curling up with a good book is not only enjoyable, it can positively impact your mental and social health.
Here are some of our recommendations from IUSD’s Literacy Department: 1. Encourage students to read 15 minutes each day. 2. Read a combination of fiction and nonfiction in long and short texts. 3. Enable students to read books that interest them. To read the full article with more information, click here.
Additional Resources: Raising a Reader, Renaissance: What Kids are Reading (includes a variety of resources and information), IUSD Digital Library Access, University Park Public Library, Newport Beach Public Library, IUSD Comics/Graphic Novel Database, ReadWriteThink.org, International Literacy Association, and Raising Strong Readers (tips by age). Click here for IUSD’s Literacy Tips flier.
Dec. 19, 2022: In our last Mindful Monday of 2022, Superintendent Walker, joined by his dog Finn and IUSD animal friends, highlights the importance of finding moments of joy. There are many lessons we can learn from animals, who remind us to stay in the present and to find joy in the moment, which is what we hope you will do this winter break. Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, or doing something you love – and of course spending time with an animal friend in your life – best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!
Thank you to our special animal friends in order of appearance:
Title Slide: Lulu, Duffy, Kona, Magellan, Robert and Ferdinand (sheep), Piper, and Eddy.
Video: Butters, Chasey, Marvin, Alan, Sierra and Raven, Stella, Nugget, Mr. Pickles, Stella and Pheobe, Sheldon, Montgomery J. Biscuits “Monty”, Bailey, Sunshine, Duffy, Deeks, Ally, Olive, Walter, Barney, Goose, and Finn.
Jan. 9, 2023: For our first Mindful Monday of 2023, Jenilee Dinkle, IUSD’s Coordinator of Prevention and Intervention is sharing tips for setting realistic goals.
When goal setting, break it down into small steps rather than big leaps. Start by asking yourself “why?” Why do I want to set this goal and what is the end result?
- Once you’re clear on why you’ve set the goal and the results you want, then use the SMART framework, which is:
- Most importantly, if you have a setback or change your goal, be kind to yourself. Use changes or challenges as opportunities to adapt, to see new possibilities and either persevere or pivot so that you reach the goal that is best for you.
Jan. 23, 2023: This Monday marks the start of the Great Kindness Challenge, which is a national program dedicated to recording as many acts of kindness as possible. So for this week’s Mindful Monday, Sierra Vista Assistant Principal Bryan Thomas is talking about the power of kindness, which not only benefits those we are kind to but it also benefits us by fostering greater social connections, building stronger friendships, and creating a positive mental outlook. The more you practice kindness, the more you become a stronger leader! And remember, kindness can be as simple as a nice word or a smile to brighten someone’s day.
To learn more about the Great Kindness Challenge, visit the Orange County Department of Education’s Newsroom at newsroom.ocde.us and also check out their ongoing 1 Billion Acts of Kindness campaign. Don’t forget to log your acts of kindness by visiting Kindness1Billion.org.
There are also many ways to get involved at school or in the community. Talk to your teacher(s), principal, and school counselors. Consider joining a club on campus. Also, check out the City of Irvine’s middle and high school Youth Action Teams among many other resources and options.
Jan. 30, 2023: In this week's Mindful Monday, we are focusing on the importance of play, in honor of Global School Play Day (Feb. 1), which was founded by IUSD’s Scott Bedley, a fourth-grade teacher at Eastwood Elementary. Mr. Bedley shares why play is important for both students and adults of any age.
Unstructured play is crucial for child development as it:
- Improves physical skills and coordination
- Enhances creativity and imagination
- Encourages social skills and teamwork
- Supports emotional regulation and stress relief
- Helps develop problem-solving and decision-making skills
- Provides opportunities for exploration and discovery
Examples of Global School Play Day in action include outdoor games and sports, arts and crafts, dramatic play, STEM activities, music and movement, free play with toys and games, and exploration of nature.
Unplugged, free and creative time is important for teenagers and adults too! Not only does it offer the same benefits for teens and adults but it also can foster greater social wellness and connectedness.
To learn more about Global School Play Day, click here. Looking for ways to get out and play, create and explore for your children and family, checkout the City of Irvine’s Inside Irvine to view their Activity Guide. Also, see IPSF’s enrichment classes for students.
Feb. 6, 2023: In recognition of National School Counseling Week, this Week’s Mindful Monday is focused on “Helping Students Dream Big.” College and Career Readiness Coordinator Connie Jacobs is sharing the following tips:
- Have confidence in yourself and in your dreams
- Set attainable goals.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your dreams.
School counselors, teachers and staff are here to help! To learn more about these skills and tips, also see our other Mindful Monday videos.
Have a great week and remember, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you land among the stars.
Feb. 13, 2023: In recognition of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month, this week’s Mindful Monday is focused on the benefits of CTE. IUSD’s College and Career Readiness Coordinator, Ulises Garcia shares how CTE not only offers hands-on learning, career exploration and job readiness skills but it can also help create a positive outlook, foster greater connections to school, boost self-esteem and increase confidence. Taking time to explore passions and interests can benefit students’ overall social/emotional wellbeing.
As we observe CTE Month, IUSD recognizes and supports the valuable role that CTE plays in preparing our future workforce and supp orting important skills and attitudes that extend beyond the classroom. To learn more about CTE, visit iusd.org/CTE or reach out to your school’s counselors.
Mar. 13, 2023: This week’s Mindful Monday is focused on healthy sleep habits. IUSD’s Shadlie Kensrue, who is a registered nurse and coordinator of the District’s Health Services is sharing some helpful tips.
- Exercise every day and for younger children get plenty of playtime.
- Avoid naps in the late afternoon.
- Turn off screens/electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day.
- Establish a consistent and calming bedtime routine.
Sleep is critical to learning and memory, cardiovascular health, mood, immunity, alertness and our overall health.
For additional information, review CHOC’s Tips to Help Your Children Sleep Better.
Mar. 20, 2023: In this week’s Mindful Monday, Beacon Park Principal Kris Linville reminds us that instead of March Madness, we should be focusing on Mindful March! With the end of the school year approaching quickly, this is a busy time for both students and families and it’s important to be in the moment instead of worrying about the past or the future. Here are some helpful tips from Principal Linville:
- Don’t get caught up thinking about the past, which can cause stress
- Avoid worry about the future, which can cause anxiety
- Instead, try living in the moment
- Enjoy your pets, family, activities such as sports, and always remember to use humor (dad and mom jokes are the best!)
Apr. 17, 2023: For this week’s Mindful Monday, School Psychologist Kevin Bradford is taking a moment to share ways to manage stress through self-care, particularly during this busy time of year. Remember to get outdoors, unplug and do something you love.
April 24, 2023: With the end of the school year, rapidly approaching, it can be one of the busiest times of the year for students, families and staff. For this week’s, Mindful Monday, Bonita Canyon Elementary School Principal Corey Pace reminds us of the importance of celebrating accomplishments and enjoying end-of-the-year activities and events. Time flies, so don’t forget to stop and enjoy the moment!
May 1, 2023: In this week’s Mindful Monday, the focus is on social connectedness, which benefits students’ overall health, especially during the summer months, when they may not see their friends or others, as often as they do during the school year.
Executive Director of Elementary Education, Stan Machesky shares the benefits of staying connected and two great options this summer, which include camps and enrichment programs from both the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and the City of Irvine. To learn more visit ipsf.net and cityofirvine.org. Registration is happening now.
May 8, 2023: This week’s Mindful Monday is focused on self-reflection. IUSD’s College and Career Readiness Coordinator, Ulises Garcia reminds us that taking time for self-reflection is essential for personal growth and development. 😊 It allows us to evaluate our thoughts, actions and emotions, and identify areas where we can improve and/or areas where we should celebrate our big and small victories. By looking inward, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. So, take a moment to pause, reflect and make positive changes.
✅This can include writing down three things you’re thankful for every day to cultivate the skills necessary to build resilience and a growth mindset.
✅If you want to feel more productive, ask yourself what are the top three things you want to accomplish today so that you can better manage your workload and it will help you stay focused.
✅And don’t forget to stop at the end of each day and think about what you’ve accomplished instead of what you might have missed. Small wins lead to bigger victories!
May 22, 2023: In our last Mindful Monday of the 22-23 school year, Superintendent Terry Walker highlights the important role mindfulness plays in self-care and in helping students cultivate the attitudes, skills and knowledge to become resilient and resourceful learners, who are able to adapt and demonstrate perseverance, hope and optimism as they face academic and personal challenges.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness can look different for each person and can include breathing and relaxation exercises, reading, listening to music, exercising and other activities that quiet the mind and support self-reflection. Taking time to slow down and self-reflect or just be in the moment can reduce stress and anxiety, while supporting social-emotional wellness, along with increased memory and focus.