Today we hear from the author of this wonderful book – Roots and Wings – Childhood Needs A Revolution: A Handbook for Parents and Educators to Promote Positive Change Based on the Principles of Mindfulness.
Alex Koster is a mum, teacher, mindfulness practitioner and author/blogger. Originally from Germany, she has also lived and worked in Co. Tipperary/Ireland since 2000. She is married and has two beautiful daughters aged 4 and 6. She has always had a great interest in education that goes beyond just traditional academia and strongly believes that children learn best through play-based approaches combined with outdoor/nature experiences. You’ll find her at her website Roots and Wings, and find her new book on Amazon.
I have always been interested in education and raising children as best as we can as a society. I was introduced to mindfulness over ten years ago when I had personally hit a wall with my own mental health issues and ever since I have been of the strong belief that a mindful lifestyle should be a part of everybody’s life. Attitudes such as kindness, compassion, non-judging, patience and acceptance are life skills that could contribute greatly to positive changes in our fast-paced society. Modern day challenges, such as the influence of technology, the internet, social media and significant changes in lifestyle, have had a big impact on how children grow up nowadays. We as parents and educators need to step up and equip our children with necessary life skills to navigate these turbulent times.
This book started out as something entirely different. Initially I had planned to compile a mindfulness program for families rather than a book. Well, this “thing” had a mind of its own as it just wouldn’t go where I wanted it to go. So I had to take my own “mindfulness” advice and accept things as they were developing and just go with the flow. It was a great, cathartic experience, because the writing process felt as if I was writing a guide for myself, for my parenting and my work as a teacher. Apart from my own practice and experience, both personal and professional, I backed up my ideas and beliefs with current research and the wisdom of many of the great teachers and practitioners of mindfulness and related topics. It really focused me on what I believe is truly important for raising resilient, compassionate and happy children, and in the meantime not forgetting about ourselves. I love the quote by Eleanor Brownn: “Self care is not selfish – We can’t serve from an empty vessel”, and it is so true that it is most important to take care of ourselves in order to be truly available for our children.
This approach isn’t about giving our lives and the way we educate our children an instant radical overhaul, it’s about starting to make a positive change one small step at a time.
Rather than just focusing on formal mindfulness practice, I wanted to give ideas as to how to include a mindful attitude into our everyday lives and education. Especially when we have young children, it can sometimes be difficult (bordering on impossible!) to get around to regular formal practice for both ourselves and our children. But it is our everyday actions and connections that will make the difference. This approach isn’t about giving our lives and the way we educate our children an instant radical overhaul, it’s about starting to make a positive change one small step at a time. Spending more time in nature, modelling kindness, gratitude and love, reducing overfilled schedules, creating calming technology-free spaces in our homes and schools, paying attention to how we interact with our children and the people around us, becoming aware of your own emotions and respecting those of our children, showing compassion and trying to practice self-compassion…all of these things are mindfulness.
Mindfulness isn’t the cure for all, but I passionately believe that the different components and attitudes can make a big difference in the way we approach life, and give us and our children the necessary skills to weather the storms with a little more ease. It will also help us to be more present and enjoy all the great people and beautiful things that are already enriching our lives right in this very moment.