Mindfulness in Parenting and Teaching 

Jenn McCullough, a mother of two, aged 19 and 24, has been interested in yoga and mindfulness since before she had children. As a special education teacher, she had been incorporating yoga and mindfulness into lessons with her students. That teaching experience allowed her to realize the powerful tool of mindfulness to help kids learn to manage their feelings and behavior.  

Mindfulness benefits

Watching a sunset mindfully, for example, means putting your attention fully on enjoying the scene rather than making plans or being on the phone while you observe.

“Mindfulness is a practice of being present with yourself – how you’re feeling in your body, your mind, your energy level. [The practice includes] being aware of where you are and who you’re with so that you can enjoy things more fully,” McCullough explains.

McCullough began teaching yoga in Toledo to people of all ages and abilities when her children were young. Based on her growing knowledge of the benefits of mindfulness, around the same time she also began teaching mindfulness in a local elementary school. She developed and taught activities for children designed to lower stress, increase focus, develop compassion and deal with big emotions. 

The Mindfulness Deck

The idea for a deck of cards with a mindfulness activity on each card came from McCullough’s desire to encourage children, teachers and parents to practice mindfulness on their own. From her years of working with children, she had collected these wonderful mindfulness activities that were fun and useful and she wanted children to be encouraged to practice them at home and at school. 

She consulted with local yoga teacher and artist, Sarah Kear, who designed the deck using drawings of different animals to demonstrate the activities. Each card has a different animal and mindful activity. A butterfly doing a sleeping butterfly pose, a blowfish teaching a slow breathing exercise with a pinwheel and a turtle teaching mindful walking are a few examples of the 26 unique cards in the deck.

The cards are organized into 7 themes: breathe, focus, move, calm, relax, care and create.

McCullough loves that the illustrations “are visually very appealing and engaging, and . . . how parents, teachers and children can follow the instructions very easily.”

The back of each card contains questions to encourage discussing the activities and the benefits along with ideas for when to use the mindfulness activity.  

Order mindfulness decks and learn about Jenn’s yoga and mindfulness offerings including hike and yoga, kayak and yoga, and yoga with alpacas at integration.yoga

Q & A with Jenn McCullough

What do you love most about living in Toledo? I love our Metroparks and I use them all the time for hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, connecting with friends and teaching yoga. 

What are you currently reading?  A Man Named Ove, by Frederik Backman, which is very heartwarming. 

What is one of your favorite memories of spending time with your kids in Toledo? Spending time in the museum, especially the family center where we could do art activities. 

What is one thing you like about being a mom of two young adults? I love that my kids enjoy doing outdoor adventures with me. 

What is one of your hobbies outside of yoga? I love the creative aspects of gardening, and literally enjoying the fruits of my labor — the flowers, veggies and many, many tomatoes.

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