Don’t Forget…

If you’ve signed up for Mindful Mondays, the time has changed to 11:00 a.m. EST (8:00 a.m. PST). This opportunity is for whole families to join together and prepare their bodies, minds, hearts and spirits for the learning week ahead. Bring your children or teens! Or if you are a professional who works with families or an educator supporting remote learning, join to gain a model you can use for your own work with children! See you there!

If you still want to join, there’s a sign up on the site (look for the Mindful Mondays post!) and you’ll be sent a Zoom link to connect. And for those who are unable to join live, you’ll be sent the recording.

Hope it’s a week of safe, healthy and rich learning experiences for you and your family!

Daily Feelings Temperature Checks

Though my family is not entering a school building each day and attempting to assess any signs of illness in ourselves or our child each day, we are going to school — at home. And we do need to check each of our temperatures as a matter of routine for our emotional wellness. No matter what shape or form your school year is taking, no one is escaping that low level of anxiety that lives right under the skin. Each of our worries is personal and unique but the social, political, health, environmental and economic crises of the moment are impacting us all. 

That anxiety that is a nagging companion may just be hindering our ability to be effective. We may struggle to bring our full patience and support to our children who are remote learning. And our children may struggle to bring their full attention to the learning that teachers are trying to facilitate. Indeed teachers are facing daily their own hosts of concerns. So our ability to learn in this context can be compromised considerably if we do not take steps to support our emotional well-being. 

First, it’s helpful to understand anxiety and put it into context. The threat response we feel is a critical function of our nervous system including our brain heightening our focus to the danger around us. In this time of sustained crisis, we can count on those feelings to support our ability to protect ourselves and our loved ones when we are going out in public and need to take safety measures for many, to avoid illness, for many, to keep careers alive and income flowing, and for many, to assert the need for social and racial justice.

Authentic learning requires trust and caring relationships. When ethnographer Angela Valenzuela interviewed and carefully listened to immigrants in Texas – Mexican-American parents and students – and dug into the meaning of the Spanish word “educacion,” (in English: education) they understood it to mean “caring before learning.”

This means that teachers whether they are teaching through masks or through a screen, whether they are affiliated with a school or serve as teacher and parents/caregivers too, all need to create a sense of care in the learning environment. Children and teens need to feel seen, heard and valued. In fact, we all do if we are going to get through the work at hand, internalize the valuable lessons of the moment and learn to thrive in this challenging time.

This is my twelve-year-old son’s favorite way to check in with our family.

Here are a couple of temperature check tools. Using post notes works well because emotions change with the ebb and flow of the day and these charts are able to change as the days go by. Encourage family members or students to add new words as they come to better understand the complexity of their feelings and the fact that we often have multiple and sometimes, contradictory feelings at once.

Instituting a feelings check-in as a regular part of your morning routine can promote your child’s ability to self-regulate throughout their school day. In naming their emotions, they are seeking understanding from other family members and are sharing what is truly going on inside. Rather than shoving it down and holding onto it, they express what’s in their hearts and don’t have to hold so tight to the secret of those big feelings. Over time, they’ll grow more comfortable with articulating their emotions adding to their resilience.

This is just one simple step you can take in family life to build trust between family members and promote emotional intelligence in your children. Wishing you emotional well-being this back to school season!


Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling; U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. NY: State University of New York Press.

Happily Family Pre-Conference Watch Party Tomorrow

Confident Parents, Confident Kids’ Jennifer Miller has been a regular partner, presenter and friend of the Happily Family Conferences over the years. Cecilia and Jason Hilkey have a unique ability to create a global learning community that feels so connected despite the large number of participants. This is one not to miss!

Jennifer will be speaking in the pre-conference session starting Thursday, September 17th at 2:00 p.m. EST (11:00 a.m. PST). And check out the other excellent pre-conference speakers. Sign up here free!

Mark your calendars for:

– Thursday, Sept 17th, at 11 am Pacific, featuring Jennifer Miller – Can We All Just Get Along? Using Fair Fighting to Build Family Harmony 

– Tuesday, Sept 22nd, at 11 am Pacific, featuring Mercedes Samudio – Shame-proof: When Families & Communities Move Beyond Shame 

– Friday, Sept 25th, at 11 am Pacific, featuring Dr. Joseph Lee – Decreasing Anxiety by Being a “Good Enough” Parent

The conference itself begins October 5-9th with exceptional speakers including: Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult, Janine Halloran, founder of Coping Skills for Kids, Christine Neff, researcher on compassion and more.

Hope you’ll join this rich learning experience!

Soon…Mindful Mondays!

If you’ve signed up, see you very soon for Mindful Mondays! Join Confident Parents, Confident Kids Founder Jennifer Miller today at 1:00 p.m. EST (12 CT, 11 MT, 10 PT) on Zoom beginning today — September 14th, 2020 for a half hour of mindfulness and connection for the whole family. If you’ve already signed up, we’ll see you very soon!

If you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late to join for future weeks. The time will change to Mondays from 11:00 a.m. EST (8 a.m. PT) to 11:30 EST (8:30 a.m. PT) each week.

Start your week each Monday of this Fall preparing your child and your own brain and body for learning. Mindful Mondays will include a greeting to say hello from all corners of the world, a sharing question to get our hearts and brains engaged, a guided mindful activity to promote a sense of presence, focus and calm, a recitation of the Global Pledge of Allegiance, and one social and/or emotional skill goal for the week.

Free! We’ll send you a recurring Zoom Link and a reminder so you and your family can join us!

On Parent.Com… “The Mental Load When There Are Two Moms to Carry the Burden”

Author and Friend Nikkya Hargrove talks about the many complexities of living through a pandemic, supporting remote learning, sheltering at home while advocating for racial and family justice. Jennifer Miller of CPCK was honored to contribute. The article begins…

There’s an overwhelming expectation in our society that moms are naturally better caregivers than dads and they’re expected to be able to handle more of it as a result. This leads to a mental load imbalance in two-parent heterosexual households. But the reality is gender does not define parenting abilities and raising kids in a same-sex, two-mom household has its own share of burdens to navigate. Read the full article on!

Thanks for the opportunity to collaborate, Nikkya!

Don’t Forget – The Back to School Webinar Series Begins Tomorrow!

How to Set Up the Physical Environment for Learning Success at Home        

Friday, September 11, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST – 1:15 (11 CT, 10 MT, 9 PT)

How to Set Up the Emotional Environment for Learning Success at Home

Friday, September 18, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST – 1:15 (11 CT, 10 MT, 9 PT)

How to Set Up the Social Environment for Learning Success at Home

Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST – 1:15 (11 CT, 10 MT, 9 PT)


Launching SEL for Ohio!

Announcing the launch of the Social and Emotional Learning Alliance for Ohio! I’m delighted to join with co-founder Pamela McVeagh-Lally and our new leadership team to form SEL for Ohio, a group committing to growing a supportive learning network of educators, parents, policymakers and more who will champion advancing children’s social and emotional development in our state. We appreciate the support of the national network, SEL4US who has provided much of our foundation to get us started.

Check out our website: Social and Emotional Learning Alliance for Ohio and please do sign up for updates here! Join us and sign up to be part of a statewide community of educators, leaders, and parents sharing knowledge and advocating for SEL for Ohio’s children!

Check out our other social media links:
Twitter@SEL4OH – Group: Social and Emotional Learning Alliance for Ohio (SEL4OH) –

If you are not in Ohio but are eager to learn more or contribute to a supportive learning network for advancing children’s SEL, consider signing up for SEL4US!

Setting Up Your Home Environment for LEARNING Success

Confident Parents, Confident Kids Back-to-School Webinar Series

We are entering into an unprecedented school year with plenty of uncertainties and the stress and fear that goes with it. We are also facing big emotions like sadness and loss as we watch our children go back to school without so many of the rituals we have come to love and including many new rules and restrictions. We cannot miss seeing the worry on principal and teacher faces.

Many of us are hosting children and teens at home to learn remotely while staying safe. Regardless of whether you work full-time, multiple jobs, part-time or are a full-time parent, regardless of whether you’ve had training in education, most of us were not trained in supporting remote learning. And though we had a pilot immersion in remote learning last Spring, most of us were scrambling through it to make it work. So for this back to school season, how can we become thoughtful about setting up the physical, social and emotional environment at home to ensure it’s conducive to learning? In the following webinar series, CPCK’s founder Jennifer Miller will offer tricks and tips for doing just that and she’ll welcome your questions, your ideas and ways you’ve been successful and attempt to address even your toughest challenges.

Indeed, research confirms that parent resilience comes from learning about children’s development, promoting your own and your child’s social and emotional competence, and receiving the social supports necessary to keep you well-informed and also, emotionally cared for. This is yet another gift to you – my offer of support – during these challenging times. Hope you’ll join in these dialogue sessions! Check out the following:

  1. How to Set Up the Physical Environment for Learning Success at Home        

Whether you are doing distance learning, virtual schooling, or homeschooling or your child is knee-deep in homework already, our homes need to serve as a conducive place for learning. We don’t need big, elaborate spaces or expensive equipment. But there are ways we can establish daily routines and schedules and create a sacred space with the supplies and space needed for our child to be able to focus on the work they need to accomplish at home.

Friday, September 11, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST – 1:15 (11 CT, 10 MT, 9 PT)

2. How to Set Up the Emotional Environment for Learning Success at Home

Emotions determine whether or not learning takes place. Emotions are not an annoyance that can be ignored. If we plan for our children’s big feelings, we can not only build emotional intelligence but also, create habits for deep learning that can last a lifetime. Learn how deal with your child’s most challenging emotions during schoolwork time in ways that teach them to cultivate their own self-awareness and self-management skills. Learn to deal with your own anger, tension and frustrations in ways that will support your child’s learning.

Friday, September 18, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST – 1:15 (11 CT, 10 MT, 9 PT)

3. How to Set Up the Social Environment for Learning Success at Home

Relationships matter. Whether you are concerned about your child’s learning success or mental health, we know their social connectedness is critical to their healthy development. Those social connections feel particularly at-risk during this time of a global pandemic when online connections are the primary ways we can socialize. Learn what caring parents and caregivers can do with various ages and stages to support their child’s social connections to maximize their health and happiness.

Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST – 1:15 (11 CT, 10 MT, 9 PT)

Sign up here for one, two or all three of the upcoming webinars (please check the box to designate!) free. We’ll send you a Zoom link to join. There will be a limit on the number of attendees for each webinar so don’t wait to join!

I love CPCK’s important work to support families and have some resources to contribute! I want to see more of these important supports so I’ll donate to help CPCK continue to offer many free services! Click here to give…

Back-to-School Family Support… Fall Mindful Mondays

Starting Sept. 14th…Mindful Mondays

Start your week preparing your whole family mentally, socially and emotionally for learning for the week ahead. Join Confident Parents, Confident Kids Founder Jennifer Miller each Monday at 1:00 p.m. EST (12 CT, 11 MT, 10 PT) on Zoom beginning September 14th, 2020 for a half hour of mindfulness and connection for the whole family.

Start your week each Monday of this Fall preparing your child and your own brain and body for learning. Mindful Mondays will include a greeting to say hello from all corners of the world, a sharing question to get our hearts and brains engaged, a guided mindful activity to promote a sense of presence, focus and calm, a recitation of the Global Pledge of Allegiance, and one social and/or emotional skill goal for the week.

Check out this video short on the Global Pledge of Allegiance we began reciting last Spring with the school shutdowns. Thank you Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and specifically Carolina Herrera for putting this together.

Sign up below…

Free! We’ll send you a recurring Zoom Link and a reminder so you and your family can join for our first Mindful Monday on September 14 at 1 ET, 10 PT and each Monday through the Fall season through Monday, November 23rd.

We have a set of responsibilities as parents this (and every) school year in educating our children to think and act with social awareness. One of these responsibilities is their racial and cultural education. Though numerous schools will not adequately address learning about racism, its origins, understanding white privilege and power, and what it means to act in ways that demonstrate empathy and champion racial and social justice, this is where our critical roles as parents who are the first teachers of our children’s social, racial, and cultural beliefs and practices comes into play. Confident Parents, Confident Kids is committed to supporting you in learning as a family. To that end, we’ve curated a new permanent page on the website with resources including books, movies and websites to use with your children and also adult-appropriate articles and books to keep you as a parent learning and growing. This list will continue to be updated with recommendations from a diverse range of sources. For now, here’s a starting point for your at-home educational journey in understanding racism and social justice and how you play a role in making our world a more just place to live.

Parent and Educator Resources – for Self-and Other Adult Learning:

Don’t Say Nothing by Jamilah Pitts

An article written by a black teacher about what U.S. students need to learn.

Say Their Names: A Toolkit from Chicago Public Schools

This toolkit offers suggestions and strategies for educators and parents on having conversations with young people in school and at home about race, racism, racial violence, understanding biases, and how to take action for racial justice.

So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Good Reads describes this book as… “Ijeoma Oluo (author) explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.”

The Missing Link In Social and Emotional Learning; Why Social Justice and Equity are Essential to Social and Emotional Learning by Shannon Wanless and Tia N. Barnes

Authors of this article write, “Social justice and equity play a role in every social and emotional experience, but the majority of our research and practice still takes a colorblind approach.” This article offers educational professionals critical ideas for ensuring that every social and emotional experience is infused with racial empathy, sensitivity and instruction.

To Use In Conversation with your Children or Teens:

Black Lives Matter Movies and TV Shows Reviewed by Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit committed to reviews of all media for families and schools that designate age-appropriateness and help adults and children alike become informed about content before watching it. They use research-based approaches to their reviews and strive to be a trusted source of information about all forms of media available to children and teens. This review helps parents and educators understand what their children can learn about related to racism in the United States and beyond and at what age the material might be most effective.

How Students of Color Confront Imposter Syndrome by Dena Simmons

A powerful TED Talk about the experience of growing up black in the Bronx and then, leaving to live in Connecticut to leave the gun shots behind but encountering a more insidious and violent danger there.

Young Adult Novels:

The Poet X by by Elizabeth Acevedo

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking until she finds poetry.

Black Boy/White School by Brian F. Walker

A boy who grows up in East Cleveland is sent off to a prestigious all-white preparatory school in Maine and attempts to not lose who he is in the midst of a place and culture that refuses to accept him for who he is.

Picture Books:

The Skin You Live In

By Michael Tyler, Illustrated by David Lee Csicsko

With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities include a wide range of cultures.

A Kids Book about Racism

By Jelani Memory

Yes, this really is a kids book about racism. Inside, you’ll find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. This is one conversation that’s never too early to start, and this book was written to be an introduction for kids on the topic. This book helps young children learn about racism and how it hurts people and supports parents in raising this vital conversation in the preschool years.

Sites with Deep Resources Including Free Online Lessons:

Facing History and Ourselves

A nonprofit organization committed to using the lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. There are numerous free resources including lessons and discussions you can have at various ages and stages with your children. Check out:

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954-1985

This includes four units that shed light on why nonviolence was championed by top civil rights leaders and what we can learn from their experiences. These include: “The Philosophy of Nonviolence,” “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change,” “Tactics of Nonviolence,” and “Taking a Stand; Models of Civic Participation.”

Teaching Tolerance

A nonprofit organization committed to teaching educators and other caring adults who work with children how to teach children to become active participants in a diverse democracy. They publish resources and guidance on race and ethnicity, on voting, immigration, religion, gender and sexual identity, ability, class, bullying and bias, rights and activism. Check out:

Let’s Talk! Facilitating Critical Conversations with Students – a Teacher’s guide.

National Museum of the American Indian

Check out the K-12 Distance Learning Program that offers free webinars, virtual field trips and teacher resources on American Indian culture today and history.

The permanent resource page on these critical topics on the CPCK site will live at the following: Teaching Kids about Racial and Social Justice.

Practice the “Body Check Five” to Manage Back-to-School Fears

If you are a parent, educator, or a child old enough to anticipate the coming school year, there’s no doubt you are holding considerable tension. Speaking with educational leaders across the state of Ohio this past week, one message was consistent and crystal clear: we don’t know what the start of school will look and feel like. In fact, many of us feel stranded as schools plan to return in person yet COVID cases continue to rise, children are increasingly highlighted in the news for getting and spreading COVID and teachers seem to be the highest risk next target. Many parents are trying to figure out what to do with children who are home 24/7 while they attempt to keep their jobs, keep their business afloat or search for a new job after being furloughed or fired. Yes, families are holding tension. And it seems our landscape changes daily with new mandates, new research coming to light, differing opinions within families and the stuff of life taking on a whole new level of drama because of our already-fragile stress levels.

Our children are experiencing their own sadness from social isolation, fears of risk and the unknowns of the school year, and in addition, emotional contagion as they feel the sensations of the adults and their tension in the household. And we can easily predict that they’ll be plenty of stress and emotional contagion in a classroom between teachers and among students if they return in person. So how can we help our children manage all of these big feelings? And is there some easy practice they can take to school with them, more important than any school supplies, to deal with sudden bouts of anxiety?

Try out the Body Check Five for yourself and teach it to your child to help them prepare for whatever they face with the start of school. This strategy can be utilized by parents in preparation or by teachers to help students self-manage and focus. Here’s how you teach it:

  1. Stop. Yes, the very first step in moving toward self-regulation is recognizing that you are anxious or fearful and stopping your actions or reactions which are likely to be impulsive. It helps to say aloud, “stop.”
  2. Notice. Now in your pause state, notice what your heart is doing. Is it beating fast? How’s your temperature? Are you warm or cold? Simply, notice any sensations in your body. Practice telling a confidante (each other). “My body feels shaky all over.”
  3. Name. Practice asserting your feelings. “I feel scared. I’m really uncomfortable.” For a small feeling like a little tension, naming and seeking understanding from another can be enough to help an adult or child calm down. But if it’s a big feeling like fear, then more is needed. Take it this next step.
  4. Conduct the Body Check Five. Go through all five senses and describe what you notice. What do you see right now around you? What do you hear? What can you smell? What do you taste? What can you immediately feel through touch? Have a preschooler or kindergartner who has not learned about their five senses yet? Use a face and point to each sense, naming it. Here’s a video for preschoolers and kindergartners on the senses.
  5. Notice. Now, ask: how do you feel?Does your body feel better? Do you feel safer? This survey of your body and detailing of what you can experience with your five senses has two powerful outcomes. First, it helps a child or adult become present to their environment and focus. Second, it helps a child or adult realize that they are safe and under no serious threat in that moment.

The tension of social distancing, wearing masks with the very real threat of a pandemic can create a sense of a lack of safety all of the time. Children and adults can become hyper-vigilant about their surroundings trying to keep safe while they become more impulse-driven and edgy. We remain in our fight, flight or freeze brain states with little access to many other brain resources required for learning including language, problem-solving and creativity. This practice can help any individual realize that the sense of impending doom they feel is only perceived not real in that moment. Yes, proper safety precautions are essential. But helping our child learn how to self-soothe and dispel their sense of threat can help them cultivate new relationships this school year and enter into the flow of learning.

Try out the Body Check Five on yourself. Then teach and practice with your child. This is an unprecedented and highly complex back to school season. We have a unique opportunity to build resilience by offering our children ways in which they can manage themselves and bring their own sense of safety to school but it will take our own focus and intention to do so.

May this school year bring the gift of honing social and emotional skills along with mental and physical health and safety for you and your family.

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