Northeastern Illinois University Professor of Special Education Michele Kane has co-authored a book that is a wide-ranging introduction to mindfulness with a special focus on the traits and needs of gifted children, as well as on the opportunities that gifted programs offer for the teaching and practice of mindfulness. Written with Lamar University Professor of Teacher Education Dorothy Sisk, “Planting Seeds of Mindfulness” is published by Royal Fireworks Publishing.
“This book came about as we recognized that children are experiencing stress and anxiety in record numbers, and we wanted to address this concern in a proactive manner,” Kane said. “Gifted children experience stress and anxiety with more intensity and at earlier ages due to their advanced development.”
According to the U.S. National Institute for Mental Health, just over 20 percent of children, either currently or at some point during their lives, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.
“Mindfulness practices are both ancient and contemporary, and have a long tradition of helping to focus attention, center, and stay in the present,” Kane said. “Oft repeated at home and school are the requests to ‘pay attention’ and ‘calm down,’ yet youngsters often do not have the tools to do so. No one actually teaches them how to do this. Mindfulness practices address both of these concerns effectively.”
Parents and teachers can use the book to experiment personally with the variety of strategies mentioned so that they are better able to model mindfulness for the young people with whom they interact.
“One reason that this book is important is because it provides a roadmap for creating a culture of calm at home and at school and thereby enhances well-being,” Kane said. “This work provides effective tools that can be immediately incorporated into daily life and empowers children to become more aware of the mind/body connection.”
Kane and Sisk traveled to Dublin, Ireland, in early August to present their work at the ECHA (European Council for High Abilities) Conference.
The trip to Dublin was the cap on a busy summer for Kane. In late April and early May, she attended a four-day training to become certified in administration of The World Game, a nonverbal assessment that helps with establishing a child’s learning preference. After the training, she was invited to give a keynote address to the group Gifted Children Denmark.
In early July, she was one of the event planners for the International Dabrowski Congress, a three-day event in Chicago with participants from seven countries. One week later, she was honored as Educator of the Year for 2018 by the group Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted at which she also made a presentation.