Checking In - What's your weather?
How often have you asked your child or student how he or she is doing and can’t get more than “fine” out of them?
Now that you have a full house at home or are supporting your students in their homes, you want to check in with your child but it's hard when you can't get a real response out of them! Your instinct is right, though - it's more important than ever to check in with your children/students. So much has changed for them in a short amount of time and it’s important to normalize communication of their feelings. Once they are able to recognize how they are feeling, the conversation can open up to how to manage those feelings.
Through our partnership with Play for Peace, we are bringing you a series of fun, engaging, connecting activities!
Our first activities will address just this! We're sharing five fun and unique ways to “check in” with your children to give them new ways to express themselves—and help you know what is really going on with them! Once you get the hang of it, share with us the creative check ins you and YOUR child create together!
What is a metaphoric check in and why do they work?
Metaphoric check ins engage participants, rather than making them feel like they are being put on the spot. When metaphors are created in the creative left side of the brain, participants can bypass the conscious resistance that occurs on the left side of the brain. When you take an emotion that is normally difficult to express (i.e. sadness, fear, anxiety) and and turn it into an object (shape, color, weather), the right side of your brain* allows you to make the connection without the normal resistance that comes from sharing your feelings!
In order for one to create this connection, your child’s brain must do a little work. When presenting one of the following check-in activities to your child, they must go into their mind’s eye and think about different feelings they’ve had through past experiences, books they’ve read, or any other host of sensory experiences. For example weather; perhaps they have a particular fond memory of dancing in the summer rain in Australia or a terrifying memory of being on a boat while the sky turned green and a tornado hit (true stories!). When your child seeks out these memories, this is called a transderivational search**.
Need some visual prompts? Print out our FREE "What's your Weather" cards to help the conversation along!
Other creative Check In ideas
The secret to a successful category check in is to first allow space and time for your child to answer. When we are asked to think about something in a new way, we always experience a bit of resistance, which means we’ve taken a step out of our comfort zones and into a growth zone. To help your children in the process, you can ask them to name weather, shapes, or animals they know. As they start thinking through the possibilities, they will begin to connect the memories in their minds with the knowledge they have about the different options. Want them to go a step further? Offer a wild, creative idea, such as a pegasaurus or tie-dye to get them thinking outside of the box!
Teacher Tech Tip! Working with students through Zoom? A fun tip we learned from Dan Miller of Fifth Pillar Consulting is how students can change their names - to make whole group answering possible!
1) Ask students the check-in question
2) Give them time to think and update their name (see directions below for easy how-to
3) Have students share their answer and choose a classmate to share next
4) Or split them into Breakout Rooms in Zoom to check in with a small group of peers!
Until Next Time
Look out for our follow up blog with more ideas and PDFs for creative check-ins with your family and students!
And share your check in experiences or new check in ideas in the comments below! Remember, sharing is caring!
*Stellar Science - The effect of right and left brain dominance in language learning
**Cool Concepts - Transderivational Search