2020 PeaceMaker Thank You!

Dear Amazing Principals and Peacemaker Liaisons,

Hello from home! Thinking of you all, and hoping you and yours are doing well. Missing you so much, and so grateful to you for making this such an important and special Peacemaker Year for everyone. Now that the world is sheltering in place, Peacemakers are needed more than ever, right in their own families and communities. Thank you for all you have done to make that possible throughout the year at school, and for everyone at home now, as well. 

In celebration of you all, all of us Peacemaker Trainers at Soul Shoppe (myself, Arek Bryant and Jill Brittner), have created this thank you email below, complete with end-of-year celebration videos from each of us, to acknowledge the incredible work your Peacemakers have done. Even though it is not possible to have year-end celebrations with Party in A Box at your schools, we hope these videos are fun, engaging and useful for your entire amazing Peacemaker crew!
A couple things to note:
• We designed our videos to shower them with gratitude, and empower them with tools for Peacemaking at home with their families…and we hope you enjoy them too!
• We have also included a link for them to join the weekly activity, games and contest emails with SOUL SHOPPE LIVE. If you and your own families are not  yet on the list, you can join HERE. We hope you love!
So looking forward to hearing from you. And, hoping your end of year is wrapping up beautifully, despite these most unusual and challenging times.
From all of us at Soul Shoppe…we love and appreciate you so much.

You are AMAZING!!!!

😄💟🕊 Dara, Arek, Jill and the entire team at Soul Shoppe

Dear Wonderful Peacemakers,

Hello!! Missing you all!! Thinking of you, and hoping you and your loved ones are all well and safe at home.

• Normally at this time of year, you would be having your End-of-Year Peacemaker Party with your Principal and Peacemaker Liaisons. Since that is not possible this time, we Peacemaker Trainers have a little something for you, by video instead.  Whether you had Dara, Arek or Jill as your Peacemaker Trainer this year, all three of our vidoes are for ALL of you, below…and your entire family, too! 🙂

• Also, for those of you who don’t know about this fun thing happening…we invite you and your whole family to join the awesome weekly games and contests that are going on at SOUL SHOPPE LIVE. Join HERE. We hope you love!

Arek shares stories and useful home practices for CHECKING IN WITH FAMILY, to help everyone get along wonderfully well. 

Jill and some adorable friends share the benefits of DROPPING YOUR STORY, to help people (and puppets!) get back to peace and fun at home.

Before you watch the next video,
grab some paper and things to draw and color with! Dara shows how to make your very own PEACEMAKER CELEBRATION CERTIFICATE, plus how to set up a Peacemaking Station or Peace Corner for the whole family to use and enjoy.

Whatever grade you are in, whatever peacemaking you have done, and whatever peace you continue to bring into the world, we are so proud of each and every one of you.  You have worked so hard, with so much courage, dedication and love. You make this world a more beautiful, happy and peace-filled place for everyone.

Thank you, Peacemakers!!!!!

😄💟🕊 Dara, Arek, Jill and the entire team at Soul Shoppe
20th Anniversary Celebration

We want to send you gratitude for being part of our community. 

At our celebration, we heard the voices of our AMAZING student peacemakers. We listened as our educators spoke to the deep transformation that happens in a school’s community over years of working with Soul Shoppe. And… we had a ton of fun dancing and winning fantastic prizes! 

Just this week, a parent sent a donation with a note about Soul Shoppe’s positive impact on their family and home:

“Our 7yr-old matured in just a few sessions more than he did through most of virtual learning and has taught the methods in our household. Inspiring!”

Yes, we are INSPIRED!

We crunched some numbers… over these 20 years, we’ve supported 7,500 parents and 18,000 teachers to be empathetic adult role models for our next generation.

We have delivered over 48,000 workshops to schools… which for those of you who have seen our work means we have hit the play button on Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” 48,000 times 🙂

We have worked directly with over 560,000 individual kids, some of whom are now grown up… paying taxes, voting, and beginning their careers.

Of course it is our community (you!) who enables us to continue our work. You. Are. Amazing!

We’ve listed a few incredible ways you can take action to help Soul Shoppe launch into the NEXT 20 YEARS of big-hearted school programs.

  1. Donate! We’ve raised $14,750 towards our June 30 goal of $20,000! We are SO close to our goal. If you’d like to help us close the gap with a donation, please click here to support.
  1. Record a short video! Please let us know why you love Soul Shoppe! Record a 30-60 second video about our impact on your life! Click here to record your video!
  1. Connect us to more schools! Maybe your friends’ kid is starting at a new elementary school and you suggest they look into Soul Shoppe. Or… maybe you are at a barbecue and someone mentions they work in the local school district? This is a GREAT opportunity to tell them about Soul Shoppe, and maybe connect us all over email.
  1. Share our content online. We put a lot of work into our newsletter and social media efforts. Please spread the Soul Shoppe love by sending to friends and family! Good goes around when we all pitch in and engage when we are able.

Thank you again for what YOU have done to make our 20 years a success, and the next 20 years a reality!

5 Days of Fun!⠀

Here at Soul Shoppe, we believe that good goes around. That’s why we wanted to keep the good times rolling with more exciting events and innovative programs especially designed to help kids and adults navigate these challenging times. 

November’s event was 5 Days of Fun!, a virtual recess series that brought together hundreds of kids every day. We want to express our deepest gratitude to the kids and adults who joined us to throw down some fresh beats, laugh it up, dance out our affirmations, and take an inside look at our emotions. Thank you for helping us spread joy and infuse the school day with more fun!

Recess gives kids the chance to flex their imaginations, develop complex social relationships, and consolidate the lessons they’re learning – not to mention get their wiggles out! But with distance learning, it can be hard to find the time to design activities that will genuinely engage your students.

Our facilitators will drew on kids’ real world skills to ground them in their physical environment and foster genuine connection with their classmates so they can continue to thrive whether they’re in the classroom or at home.

As countless studies show, that 15 minute midday break can mean the difference between academic breakthroughs and mid-lesson meltdowns. Kids aren’t designed to sit still, let alone stare at a computer screen for five hours a day. That’s why recess is more important now than ever! ⠀

Stay tuned for the highlights reel and read on to learn more about how Soul Shoppe is adapting to these uncertain times to help your kids thrive.

Around the Shoppe

After Stoneman Douglas, making NEVER AGAIN a reality…

In the wake of the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School, we at Soul Shoppe must confess a painful truth. We have been stunned, paralyzed and silent, wondering what else there is to say that hasn’t already been said. How could we contribute to lasting healing and change? But as we watched our young people say, “Never Again” and rise up to use their voices, we finally found ours. Two letters follow: one to young people and one to adults.


Dear Young People

We’re sorry. We, the adults in this country, have failed you in so many ways. When you were born, you looked to the adults in your world to meet your needs, to feed you, clothe you, keep you safe and give you love. We have not done our job (keeping you physically and emotionally safe) leaving you the task of doing that for yourselves.

We have created communities where a young person can feel isolated, depairing, and in such pain that they could inflict so much violence around them.  Although we know the cycle of violence and how pain can be turned into healing when it is met with empathy, we did not respond to your cries for help.

As you stand up in larger and larger numbers, demanding action and accountability to keep our schools and all communities safe, you inspire us. We recognize that in our inaction, in our growing cynicism coupled with increasing numbness, we grew to believe that nothing could be done. Or maybe that we were doing all we could.

You shouldn’t have to do this. We don’t want you to wonder if you and your friends are safe at school. Taking your time to advocate to reduce weapons in our communities. We don’t want you to plan marches in order for people to notice what’s wrong— and that your voices matter–and that the time is now.

The power in your voice has been evident since the moment you started speaking as a child. Your leadership is an asset.  We see you in communities planning innovative ways to raise your voices as well as speak truth to your power. And connecting to each other across geographic and racial divisions. We will surround you with all the love and care you need. As adults, we will be true allies and use our own power–our skills, our resources, our access–to shine more light on your brilliance.

We promise to do right by you.

In Solidarity,
Soul Shoppe

Dear Adults

We must have the backs of our young people in our schools, in our communities and in our homes. Let’s recognize the voices of our young people for they are always the best authorities on their own experience. Let’s listen deeply to what they say and then take action. Here are some suggestions on where to start:

  • Learn to listen with an open heart and mind. Sometimes it’s challenging to listen. We have opinions, ideas, and so much advice! Our young people need our listening, not our judgment or feedback. Cultivate our listening by taking a moment to slow down so we can truly hear. We might be surprised by what we learn. Emma Gonzalez Opens Up

  • Create safe spaces at home to talk about and work through conflict.  Use I-Messages and learn how to clean things up when our words or actions have caused hurt.

  • Intervene in the persistent stereotype of young people as problems to be solved and break the cycle of adultism. Name and change our own participation in adultist behaviors.

  • Recognize when we are numbing out, overloaded or unable to be our full selves. Tap on someone else to carry the load until we are fully charged again. Model self-care so that this rising generation of activists will have the tools to thrive as activists in the long term.

  • Have the backs of our young people as they lead and plan actions around the country. Become informed about student rights.  Show our full support of their voices by joining them and following their lead through the March for Our Lives Petition and March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24th.

Every day at Soul Shoppe, we witness brave, powerful young people who step into their vulnerability, share their experience and then receive the empathy and love of their classmates. We watch them stand up with courage and speak out, and as a result they inspire us. At the core of what we do is a commitment to be open and vulnerable, therefore having our young people move us with what they have to share. It’s time for all of us to stretch ourselves and have the same courage our young people are demonstrating. We promise to support these young leaders and their teachers, and to amplify their efforts as they show us how to create big-hearted communities where everyone belongs.

In Solidarity,
Soul Shoppe

Around the Shoppe

Soul Shoppe Partners with

Over the next 8 weeks, Soul Shoppe is partnering with to help raise awareness about the impact that labeling has on people. Every week, will post a video with a Soul Shoppe staffer who tells their own story about labels. Personal stories like the ones you’ll hear in the coming weeks are an integral part of Soul Shoppe workshops.

Telling your story is important. It can help start a conversation or even start a process of healing. Someone hearing your story might be inspired to speak up, too.  Check out this week’s story here.

Got Soul Shoppe?

Are you thinking about bringing Soul Shoppe’s award winning programs to your school? Get in touch! Contact us for more information or to book for the 2018-19 school year. Find out what others have to say about the impact our programs have had.

Big-Hearted Revolution Starts Today!!! VOTE.

 VOTE TODAY to join the Big-Hearted Revolution!

Spread the message of empathy and understanding! We can create a Big-Hearted Revolution by voting for Vicki Abadesco to speak at Wisdom 2.0. It is more than a talk. It is an EXPERIENCE!

Vicki is one of the Founders of Soul Shoppe, a non-profit focused on teaching social-emotional learning and conflict resolution in elementary and middle schools. Through Wisdom 2.0, Vicki will give leaders and changemakers the Soul Shoppe interactive, immersive experience.

Give Wisdom 2.0 conference goers the EXPERIENCE of EMPATHY. Understand what is blocking us from treating each other with kindness and compassion every day.


Building Community in the Classroom

Online learning shook up the way educators had to think about building community in the classroom. The effects of lockdowns and social distancing have created an aftershock that’s still present. Creating a sense of community and belonging has never been more important as students are more distanced than before the pandemic.

Building community in the classroom is vital because it allows students to form positive relationships and feel included. It also teaches them social skills and collaboration.

In this article, we’ll explore activities that help to build community in the classroom. We’ll also identify characteristics of successful community building to evaluate implementation.

How do you build community in the classroom

Building community in the classroom

Building community in the classroom is more than assigning group work or teams. A community is created through sharing. Shared beliefs, shared values, shared ideas or attitudes all play a part. While classrooms are shared spaces, that doesn’t mean learners share the same ideals. When fostering community, it is important to encourage sharing, even when this leads to disagreement.

When utilizing small groups, sometimes it is best to let children choose their own groups to give them more autonomy. However, it is also important to assign groups on other occasions to get students interacting, who might not otherwise talk on the playground.

Community is about sharing but it’s also about compromise. This means that the best approach to building community is both fostering existing relationships and developing new ones. Use a balanced approach and keep it fresh.

Online learning and classroom community

online learning and community in the classroom

Online learning can make it difficult to replicate the methods used in classrooms pre-pandemic. Missing from virtual learning is the opportunity for children to regularly converse in small groups, not only to learn but also to develop their social skills. While some teachers do their best to create small group opportunities, there are fewer of them, and interaction is often limited. Social interactions are sometimes limited to typing on a keyboard or “raising” a virtual hand. While teachers work to nurture discussion, some students are less responsive to the new medium.

When online learning is present, it’s important to utilize breakout rooms and create social games to give students a sense of connection. Icebreakers like human bingo, where children record a short video introduction, and students must match listed interests on a bingo board to a name, are a great way to promote classroom community. In this activity, students discuss answers through microphones and typed messages. Find more examples of virtual social learning activities, here.

Activities to build community in the classroom

Activities to build community in the classroom

There are methods for creating community in the classroom that can be used both offline and online. Here are core ideas to create classroom community activities:

  • Create classroom goals and rules together. To promote teamwork and community, have students help create group goals and rules together. This creates a shared purpose.
  • Encourage your classroom to discuss their ideas. Through sharing beliefs and values or even approaches and methods, children are able to understand more about each other. They can also figure out their own position within a team. This helps them to become more aware and mindful in general. It also helps to combat assumptions to enable children to learn, rather than make judgments.
  • Develop social awareness. Children require knowledge about their peers. They need to understand that differences are common parts of life and can be celebrated. Use a range of tools such as stories relevant to younger people to give them reference points and something to identify with. Implement games that encourage children to discuss likenesses and differences. That’s Me is a game where the teacher makes a statement, such as “I have a brother” and the children who can relate, chime in and say “that’s me” if it applies to them. Implement social icebreakers regularly throughout the year, rather than restricting to the beginning of the year. More substantive interactions may occur when used more frequently.
  • Develop emotional awareness. Children need to grasp their own feelings to manage them. This also helps them to understand others through empathy. Ask your class to get introspective with creative writing and role play. Using their own feelings and emotions, and collaborating or sharing this with others will develop their personal and social awareness. Playing “Feelings Charades” where a child demonstrates an emotion and students guess the emotion is one activity that promotes emotional awareness.
  • Take inspiration from businesses. Businesses are always looking to improve their working communities through team-building exercises. These are fantastic opportunities to create a social learning environment. Adapt online team-building games and activities meant for business to the classroom.

How to identify characteristics of classroom community

Characteristics of classroom community can be identified in multiple ways. Look for these moments to confirm that a classroom has indeed become a community.

  1. Note whether classmates are answering questions for others. Not only does this take a bit of pressure off of you as a teacher, but it also demonstrates that kids are willing to share with one another. 
  1. Take moments to discuss things beyond the curriculum. If children are sharing details about their personal lives it shows that they are comfortable with each other. It also helps them to build trust because they begin to understand their differences and build their empathy skills. 
  1. Use self-reflection to measure how well activities are working. After working in a group, children can fill out a worksheet to detail what they have learned, how they have learned it, and also indicate areas of improvement. This helps you plan future sessions that incorporate community building activities.
  1. Identify leaders in the classroom. Children might not always be confident in taking charge. Assigning a group leader, especially ones that wouldn’t normally occupy this position, gives them the opportunity to develop leadership skills and show that they are willing to engage. It also prevents children from being excluded when more confident kids automatically fill these roles. It’s a balancing act where you may reward natural leaders but also persuade others to take on the challenge.

About Us

These are just a few ways to build community in the classroom and evaluate the results. Soul Shoppe provides professional development for teachers online with social emotional learning opportunities for students. See how our online courses can help.

You May Also Like:

Teaching Empathy To Kids

Effects of Social Isolation on Children

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Sources:,,, Edutopia,, NYTimes,

Building Emotional Resilience in Kids

It is often assumed that children are quick to bounce back from difficult situations by default. People tend to think kids have less stress and worries than adults. However, this is not the case. It’s important to implement actionable strategies to help your children grow into more resilient human beings. Emotional resilience is something that requires development. When children are resilient, it reduces anxiety and allows them to cope in healthy ways with life’s ups and downs. Additionally, this is a skill that is necessary in adulthood. In this article, we’ll provide ideas to nurture building emotional resilience in kids.

What is Emotional Resilience

building emotional resilience in kids coping skills

Emotional resilience is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as the ability to adapt to adverse, traumatic, or tragic events. It is a life skill to cope well with stress, anxiety, and emotional pain. For kids, this can come in a variety of situations from minor to more challenging cases. 

Minor events that may trigger stress in children can include falling out with friends, taking tests, or managing difficult emotions. Major events that create stress can include moving houses, divorce, bullying, or dealing with the impact of COVID-19. 

Building emotional resilience in kids is important because you cannot always be around to solve problems for them. Children must learn to cope with minor problems to help them when coping with major ones in the future. Teaching emotional resilience to kids helps them to lead a healthy, fulfilling life.  

The Fulcrum of Resilience

There have been various depictions of emotional resilience in the academic community. Harvard furnishes the image of a seesaw with positive and negative outcomes, all balanced on a fulcrum. Even if a child has more negative outcomes than positive ones, as long as they have coping skills and some positive outcomes, this can shift their fulcrum. According to Harvard, “Protective experiences and coping skills on one side counterbalance significant adversity on the other. Resilience is evident when a child’s health and development tips toward positive outcomes — even when a heavy load of factors is stacked on the negative outcome side.”

We cannot always protect children from stressful events. However, we can teach children emotional resilience to make it easier for them to overcome problems when they occur.

How to Build Emotional Resilience

happy family

There are many different methods and strategies to help build emotional resilience in kids. The most common factor in children who are emotionally resilient is at least one stable, loving, and supportive relationship with a parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships have the benefit of buffering developmental disruption (Harvard). 

The list below offers some examples and scenarios to help you identify when opportunities arise to nurture emotional resilience:

  1. Discuss the child’s feelings with them. When children face complex emotions, they might struggle to communicate their feelings. Use these situations as a chance for them to learn about resilience. For example, cancelled plans can lead to a child feeling disappointed and confused. Use this as leverage to explain that disappointment is a natural feeling and that they can expect to feel the same again in the future. Share times when you felt disappointed or let down to demonstrate that you can get over these kinds of feelings. Modeling emotional resilience and how to express feelings in a healthy way teaches your child how to do the same. 
  2. Try not to rush a child’s feelings. This can create false expectations. It is important to teach children that getting over negative feelings can take time. Help them understand that patience is vital to recovery. The pandemic has made it difficult to provide certainty to all our lives and children are no exception. Help them to take things one day at a time so they can manage unknowns at a reasonable pace. 
  3. Create milestones and goals. Breaking down resilience into small steps will help a child to have something to look forward to. It also helps them understand that resilience is a process.
  4. Help the child learn to accept change. Many situations in life are hard to control, no matter who you are or how resilient you have become. Encouraging children to accept change will enable them to build a more resilient attitude. Moving from elementary school to middle school is a common example of this. Focusing on the new and exciting journey they are embarking on will help them recognise a positive outlook rather than draw attention to what they have lost. 
  5. Step back. We want to protect our kids from bad experiences. However, too much intervention may be detrimental to building resilience. Children must learn self efficacy to become more resilient individuals. This means supporting them where they need help, but making sure they have opportunities to find solutions by themselves. For example, if a kid falls out with their best friend, then point them in the direction of apologising or playing with others rather than picking up the phone yourself to call the best friend’s parents or getting teachers involved. 

Parental Strategies for Building Emotional Resilience in Kids

  1. Spend one on one time with your child. Try spending 15 minutes reading to them every day, and playing their favorite board games. Other ways to build connection include floor play for younger children, cooking together, and creating art. For older children, card or board games, finding a family hobby, and playing music together are great options. Children who feel like they have an adult they can rely on tend to experience greater emotional resilience.
  2. Model emotional resilience. For example, if you are faced with a difficult life situation, show your child how to cope. Use tools like therapy, talking about feelings, and developing a self care routine. When kids see healthy ways of coping, they learn how to develop their own resiliency. 
  3. Help kids keep a hopeful outlook despite tough times. Some strategies for this include maintaining as much normalcy as possible and fostering conversations to express their feelings. Some other tools include encouraging your child to talk about positive events and starting a family gratitude journal.
  4. Make monthly or yearly goals to help build confidence and resilience. Have your child write down goals. The goals should be measurable and reasonable for maximum success. By writing goals as a family and individually, and then following up for accountability, the whole family will become more connected.
  5. Keep the environment as similar as possible. Give as much warning before a change as possible. This will help your child to cope. Similarly, take time to talk to your child about the changes that are occurring and listen to their feelings.
  6. Sometimes, it is necessary to step back to let children learn coping skills. This strategy requires self restraint as a parent or guardian. However, it is necessary for developing their coping skills. 

Resilience is like a muscle and must be exercised. The more children are able to exercise their coping skills to everyday life, the more resilient they will be.

Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs for students, parents, teachers and schools. 

You May Also Like:

Conflict Resolution for Kids

Child Emotional Development

Teaching Empathy to Kids and Teenagers

Effects of Social Isolation on Children



APA,, Open Access Government, Psycom, Understood, Washington Post

Centering Black Voices

The truth is we are all equal…
The reality is we are not.
~Dr. Leticia Nieto

Sweet community,

In the history of Soul Shoppe, our Black and African-American staff have experienced racism – from being questioned about their purpose on campus from both staff and parents, to racist remarks from teachers, to the dismissal of comments and feedback.

When forming a response to the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, here’s what our staff have to say.

What do we want our young people to learn during this time?

A seed can only produce that from which it comes. What seeds are we planting into the minds and hearts of our young people? We have to be sure the fertile hearts and minds of our children are sown with love, peace and respect for all humans, if we ever hope to produce a world that bears the same.

Soul Shoppe teaches kids to Stop & Breathe in the face of fiery feelings, but we also know things happen in our communities that make it much harder for People of Color to breathe than others. This systemic oppression has a direct impact on the students we serve.  

We are an organization that facilitates essential tools of the heart, such as mindfulness, empathy, restoration, and “anti-bullying”.

In October, we shared the definition of bullying:  Bullying involves a power differential, has occurred consistently at least three times, and is intentionally meant to hurt or harm at least one of the individuals or communities involved.

What happened to George Floyd and continues to happen to the Black community is beyond bullying, it is a revolting and repulsive display of hostility and disregard for human life and goes against everything our organization believes in and teaches. 

In the Stop & Breathe tool, we take the moment to 

  • exercise our power to STOP and

  • allow one another the rights to BREATHE as a living human being

  • to THINK as an individual then

  • CHOOSE to unite on one peaceful accord  

  • to ACT in the best interest of the entire human race.

We invite you to embrace any or all parts of our Stop & Breathe tool throughout the coming weeks to enhance your choices and actions. 

We stand with our African AMERICAN citizens in defeating the ongoing oppression, unfair treatment, and social injustice to bring love, compassion, understanding and dignity to all. 

With deep care,

The Soul Shoppe Staff


Check Us Out in Alameda Magazine!

“Helping Kids Tame Their Inner Dragon”

We were featured in Alameda Magazine for our work with Frank Otis!

Here’s a snippet of the article:

“On a recent Wednesday morning at Alameda’s Frank Otis Elementary, animated fourth-graders were seemingly spellbound by what they were learning. Many of them were also grinning ear to ear or laughing. The students were having so much fun that you’d hardly imagine that the lesson of the day was a topic many adults often find a bit painful and daunting to talking about: how to cope with the very messy feelings of anger, irritation, annoyance, and frustration that can cause you to blow up and lash out.

But instead of solemn or embarrassed faces, it was all joy and excitement as the guest speaker, Anthony Jackson, a facilitator for the Soul Shoppe program, taught kids to recognize their own emotions and their impact on others. He coached students on how to wrestle with the build-up of emotions that can overwhelm kids, from sadness and anger to irritation and loneliness, comparing them to a balloon that could burst if you don’t pay attention to what’s inside.

‘The balloon is a place inside of us where we put our feelings we don’t know what to do with,’ Jackson explained. ‘They are not bad or wrong feelings. They are just feelings. And if we don’t take care of them, they come out on someone else.’ ”

Want to read the full article? Read more here!

Child Emotional Development

When we think of children developing skills, our thoughts often drift to milestones such as learning to ride a bike or acing their first test. However, children need more than physical achievements to thrive in life. Child emotional development includes several skills that help children understand themselves and others better. These skills help them navigate life in a fulfilling way. Furthermore, these skills promote future success well into adulthood.

What is Social and Emotional Development?

What is Social and Emotional Development?

Social and emotional development refers to a child’s experience and expression of emotions and how they manage them. It also includes the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships (Cohen and others 2005).

Social and emotional development is crucial in the first five years of life. However, emotional development continues well into adolescence. 

Why is Teaching Child Emotional Development Valuable?

Nurturing a child’s emotional development helps to promote future happiness and success. Studies have shown that teaching emotional development improves students’ social and emotional skills and behaviors. Furthermore, it positively affects classroom organization, classroom management, and more. 

5 Skills of Emotional Learning

Emotional development leads to five important skills, according to the National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments. These include: emotional regulation, self and social awareness, learning how to establish positive relationships, and good decision making. These skills are vital to the success of children and adolescents.

Emotional Regulation

Child Emotional Development through Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is an essential part of development. It is defined as “The ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm” (PsychologyToday). Emotional regulation is critical to children’s relationships with themselves and others. Those that don’t have this type of regulation often experience emotional outbursts and isolation. It can also lead to depression and self-harming behaviors. However, it is a teachable skill. Through workshops and lessons in the classroom, we can teach children how to regulate emotions and have control over their thoughts and feelings. 

Self and Social Awareness 

Learning self-awareness is a critical aspect of emotional development. Self-awareness helps children acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to actively participate in their own success. 

Self-aware children typically have more social awareness. Social awareness is the ability to have empathy for others. This leads to understanding the perspective of other cultures and social groups. Both self-awareness and social awareness are vital to the growth of each child and help children grow up to be conscientious adults.

Learning How To Have Positive Relationships

When children learn self and social awareness, they are better able to experience positive relationships. Building positive relationships encompasses several skills. One key aspect is knowing how to express emotions appropriately. At the same time, children need to learn how to respond to others with empathy. Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand the feelings of another. 

Other skills children need to learn when building positive relationships include how to:

  • make friends 
  • respond to conflict in a relationship
  • listen to others
  • give and receive feedback

These are just a few of the wide array of skills needed to build and maintain relationships. Successful relationships and rich social lives produce lasting benefits throughout life.

Good Decision Making

We tend to think good decision-making skills are developed through “trial and error.” However, that is a fallacy. Good decision-making is more than learning from successes and failures. It is a way of thinking about making decisions before a consequence occurs. This skill involves teaching children how to identify the problem, and possible solutions and consequences. By thinking critically about decision-making, they can make better choices. 

Good decision-making affects children well throughout childhood and helps them to become more responsible and self-confident.

What are the Emotional Development Stages?

Early Childhood Emotional Development

Social and emotional development occurs rapidly in the first five years of life. This time of development is essential to the ultimate happiness and well-being of children.

In the early stages of child emotional development, children begin to learn self-awareness. In addition, they start exploring how to express emotions. They also learn how to interact with others. Furthermore, they learn how to safely explore their environment. In the early stages, children look to others to learn social cues. These cues help them navigate how to respond and play with others. 

These building blocks of emotional development in early childhood are nurtured through positive reinforcement. 

Elementary and Middle School Emotional Development

Elementary and Middle School Emotional Development

Between the ages of 5-13 emotional development progresses to include more self-regulation, problem-solving, social awareness, and more.

The child emotional development stages are listed below. Note that the time frame may be different for each child: (Source: Child-Encyclopedia).

Early Elementary (K-2nd Grade)

  • Learning how to fit in with other children
  • Continuing to learn self regulation
  • Learning self conscious emotions (such as embarrassment)
  • Needing support from adults but growing their self reliance skills

Middle Elementary (3rd-5th Grade)

  • Increased problem solving skills
  • Distancing self from adults and becoming more peer focused
  • Focus on problem solving
  • Understanding of multiple emotional states in the same person
  • Typically following norms for behavior

Middle School (6-8th grade)

  • Increased dependence on peers
  • Focus on social awareness and roles
  • Learning how to differentiate between close friends and acquaintances
  • Becoming more fluent in problem solving with multiple solutions
  • Increased emotional empathy
  • Learning impression management

High School

  • Learning how to communicate emotions and thoughts effectively 
  • Becoming more proficient with impression management
  • Character integration and moral development
  • Increased self awareness, particularly emotional awareness 


We can increase children’s emotional intelligence to provide them with a better quality of life. Self-confidence, better relationships, and resilience can all be achieved through emotional development. When children are emotionally resilient, they can manage adversity and difficult times. In addition, research has demonstrated that intervening in children’s emotional development has a positive impact on their academic success. Whichever stage of emotional development children are in, there are appropriate lessons and support.

Soul Shoppe has workshops dedicated to the mission of creating safe learning environments. They help eliminate bullying, as well as teach empathy, emotional literacy skills, and conflict resolution. Learn more about social emotional learning for elementary students and social emotional development for middle school programs.

You May Also Like:

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Child-Encyclopedia, HelpMeGrow, PsychologyToday, Rasmussen, Understood, WorldBank,

Conflict Resolution for Kids: Strategies, Activities & Games

With the school year underway, it’s time to talk about conflict resolution for kids. The pandemic has made it difficult for children to engage with each other. Therefore, many have missed out on crucial opportunities to build and develop their skills for dealing with conflict. 

Teaching kids about how to resolve difficult situations is important because it equips them with resilience and confidence.

Conflict Resolution For Kids

two kids fighting over teddy bear - conflict resolution for kids

Conflict resolution education is the act of instilling problem-solving skills in children who are in a dispute. Teaching children about conflict helps them to identify problems. It also helps them choose the best solutions on their own. 

A good place to start is demonstrating that problems start small and tend to grow. Teaching them to identify problems as soon as they take place makes it easier for kids to quickly overcome the obstacles they face. 

Sometimes problems may go unnoticed in the early stages. This can lead to emotions becoming more intense. Therefore, it is important to teach children about their feelings. Having them identify their own emotions will also enable them to understand the emotions of others around them. 

In cases where conflict has snowballed into a large problem, it is imperative that children understand responsibility as well as compromise. Knowing that conflict is a two-way street will encourage kids to act and will enable them to preserve their friendships when things go wrong. Practicing compromise will also help to resolve conflicts where children are not destined to be the best of friends. This will help create a peaceful environment and a productive learning space for everyone.

Occasionally two students will not be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion with their problem. There will be times, even though we want them to figure it out on their own, when adults have to step in and guide them further. Reassure your kids and students that they are able to talk to you about their problems.

Conflict Resolution Strategies in the Classroom

Students need to find strategies for resolving different forms of disagreement. Four major conflict resolution strategies identified by educators are: mediation, process curriculum, peaceable classrooms, and peaceable schools.


Many schools use peer mediation programs to reduce conflict. Students have the opportunity to talk through conflicts with trained students  or adult mediators. Mediation programs are put in place to reduce punishments such as suspension or detention. Learn about Soul Shoppe’s Peacemakers program.

Process Curriculum

Some schools dedicate an entire course to conflict resolution. This is called process curriculum. It introduces problem scenarios before a conflict ever arises.

Peaceable Classrooms

Peaceable classrooms integrate conflict resolution into the classroom daily through classroom management and daily tasks. This is not a separate curriculum but brings a lifestyle approach to teaching conflict resolution. This approach reinforces cooperation and the acceptance of diversity. It also teaches caring and effective communication.

Peaceable Schools

In peaceable schools, all three of the above approaches are implemented. Everyone in the school including teachers, students, and administrators work together to remain proactive about conflict.

These four conflict resolution strategies work together to reduce school absences, decrease referrals and suspensions while increasing self-confidence and self-respect among students.

Conflict Resolution Activities for Kids

teacher reading book in classroom

Conflict resolution for kids can also be fun. Here are some easy activities to get kids thinking and learning about conflict resolution:

  • Brainstorm solutions to specific conflicts with your kids. Preparation will help them when any conflict arises. It will also help you gauge how much work you need to do to develop a child’s conflict resolution skills.
  • Fill a mason jar full of popsicle sticks with solutions to problems. When a child is finding it difficult to find a way to resolve their issues, they can take a stick from the jar and try that. Kids will learn to think on their feet and use the jar less over time.
  • Create stories individually or in groups. Ask the kids to think about a story that involves conflict and an ending with a solution. They can present the stories to the rest of the class or to their siblings if done at home.

Tip: Reward good conflict resolution by sending a letter home or by creating a gold-star chart.

Conflict Resolution Games for Kids

playground - conflict resolution for kids

Gamifying a child’s learning is a good way to create a rewarding environment that will help to create a lasting impact. Here are some ideas you can use in the classroom or at home:

  • Role-playing is a fun way for children to safely engage in conflict situations. This can be done with each other or with an adult for more challenging conflict scenarios.
  • Create a simple game of pairs where children have to match the conflict to the solution. 
  • Play problem-solving baseball. This game is great for more complex conflict situations. Start with the conflict and then work through each base until they reach the solution.

Conflict resolution for kids is imperative for social and emotional success. Soul Shoppe provides conflict resolution training for educators through our Peacemakers program. The Peacemakers program aims to create schools where children are empathetic and peace thrives.

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Creating Bully-Free Classrooms

Many schools already have some excellent anti-bullying and community-building practices, but these can be overly compartmentalized, occurring only at specific times of day. Emotions are happening all the time!

Here are some things educators can do to fill the gaps:

  • Create multiple opportunities for class meetings or class moments where everyone has a voice and everyone gets to be seen.
  • Create school structures so that adults at our schools are easily available for young people, where they have the time and the emotional space to give young people their full attention and empathy.
  • Create time for teachers and adults at school to reflect, to notice if kids are being excluded and to work to create inclusion throughout the day.
  • Build the critical skills of empathy and community within our kids.
  • Model empathy and self-management skills. Kids learn from the example of the adults around them.

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Culture of Inclusion

Culture of Inclusion

A Culture of Inclusion

A culture of inclusion is defined as creating and maintaining an environment in which people of different backgrounds can achieve their fullest potential (Harvard). It is a culture where different strengths are valued and celebrated. Whether in schools or in the workplace, building a culture of inclusion benefits both students/workers and the classroom/organization as a whole.

The Difference Between Diversity and a Culture of Inclusion

Though a culture of inclusion and diversity can sound similar, they are very different. You can have a diverse classroom or work environment and still not have a culture of inclusion. Diversity is simply referring to demographics. A culture of inclusion means that everyone is contributing their different voices, ideas and experiences to the overall classroom or workplace culture. This contribution supports a richer and more successful environment.

How to Create a Culture of Inclusion

Importance of Respect and Empathy

teen acceptance - culture of inclusion

Empathy is a critical skill and a building block of creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. It is defined as the ability to emotionally understand the feelings of another. Commonly, it is described as being able to “walk in another person’s shoes.” This skill is necessary in order to create emotional growth, as well as a culture of compassion and connection. When people learn empathy, they are better able to respect other people’s thoughts, feelings, and world experiences. It is a transformative skill that changes our behaviors and the way we see others. Consequently, this is a strong focus of creating a culture of inclusion.

Culture of Inclusion in Schools

Creating a culture of inclusion in schools is important because it’s the main place young people will learn and emulate team behaviors. They are likely to carry these behaviors into the workforce and society as a whole. In addition, a culture of inclusion creates a safe classroom environment where children from all backgrounds can academically thrive.

Building a culture of inclusion in schools requires all stakeholders to share responsibility for inclusion. Some ideas for creating a more inclusive culture include:

  • Anti-bullying workshops
  • Diversity training
  • Writing a value statement

However, it goes beyond that. Even when enacting inclusive policies and practices, inclusive culture requires a shift of attitude. The entire school must embrace it and share the responsibility for it to come to fruition. This is where empathy and teamwork is important. Building a culture of inclusion takes everyone.

How to Promote Inclusion in the Workplace


Community building in the workplace is an important aspect of cultural inclusion. Workplace community is the culture of a company and its morale. It is influenced by individual perspectives and experiences. Therefore, it is critical that the workplace community is safe, productive, and cohesive. When workplace culture is positive, employees bring their authentic selves to the team and value their work. In order to build community, a sense of belonging and connection is required. This can be done by appreciating individual and group contributions, and being responsive to employee concerns. Similarly, holding spaces to listen to employees is necessary. Inclusive behaviors in the workplace begin at the leadership level first. Leaders can model empathy in their daily interactions, which demonstrates how employees should act. Actively demonstrating empathy and respect, helps businesses and individuals to thrive.

Creating policies that promote inclusiveness is an important first step. In addition to policies, empowering team members to solve problems and come up with new ideas promotes inclusiveness. Along with empowerment, a work culture that promotes courage is one that fosters inclusiveness. Employees should feel they can stand up for what they believe in. Lastly, promoting humility in the workplace is important for creating a positive workplace culture. Humility allows team members the ability to take constructive criticism and overcome limited viewpoints by listening to others.


Building a culture of inclusion is more than just a one time training event. It is creating a shift in the overall culture. It requires commitment from everyone from leaders to employees to students alike. By creating positive environments that foster empowerment, humility and courage, both schools and workplaces are more likely to succeed.


Whether you want to improve your school, community, or workplace, Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs and resources. We offer programs on cultural inclusion from teacher professional development to workplace culture training. Our team is highly trained, informative, and makes training fun. We offer a transformative experience that will leave lasting results.

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Effects of Social Isolation on Children

The effects of social isolation on children remain a complex issue. There are a variety of situations that can lead to a child feeling isolated. The impact of the global pandemic has made this all the more visible. The pandemic has increased the number of children who experience isolation — many for the first time in their lives.

How do you identify feelings of social isolation in your children? This article will examine the symptoms, and causes of social isolation to help you better understand the issue and how to reduce its effects.

What is Social Isolation?

Social isolation is when someone feels excluded from others and experiences loneliness (WHO).

Effects of Social Isolation on a Child

Effects of social isolation on a child

Social isolation can stunt a child’s development in numerous ways. It can make children anxious in social settings and unable to interact with their peers or adults. It can also prevent a child from learning. Humans are social beings that learn from one another. Therefore, the lack of interaction can reduce momentum in academics as well as hinder social and emotional growth. Social isolation has also been linked to negative impacts on mental health. 

Causes of Social Isolation


The most obvious instance of social isolation is lockdown and other social distancing measures we’ve navigated due to the pandemic (Let There Be Health). This way of living has made it difficult for children to interact with others, including their own family members. 

Mental Health

Mental health such as depression and anxiety can cause social isolation. Anxiety is a prominent instance of this because a child may find social situations uncomfortable (Tulane University). Depression and hopelessness can also prevent a child from finding valid reasons to engage, meaning they withdraw as a result. 

Learning Disabilities

Some children learn differently from others. For example, children with ADHD may find it difficult to interact with others. Sometimes, this is due to acting differently than their peers in social settings. Difficult interactions can make a child feel they don’t fit in and it can sometimes lead to bullying, which discourages them from engaging with their peers (Contemporary Pediatrics).


Children may struggle with their identity. They may find it hard to engage with others if they are aware of their differences, or if they simply feel they are different (Beyond Differences). It is important to create inclusive environments to reduce the anxieties and fears children feel regarding their identity.

Symptoms of Isolation

Social isolation can present a variety of symptoms. Symptoms and causes of social isolation have long been researched (Psychiatric Times). Below we explore these symptoms.


A worried child may act out, such as whine or talk back more than usual. Irritability is an indicator that a kid is uncomfortable and they may find it hard to verbalize their frustration directly. This frustration and lack of verbalization can lead to more serious consequences in the future. Spotting signs of anxiety and addressing these early on helps to prevent the child from developing depression and becoming a socially isolated adult later in life (National Geographic).

Hopelessness and Depression

If your child begins to find it difficult to think positively about situations, they may be experiencing symptoms of social isolation. They may begin to feel hopeless because they are unable to deal with uncertainty or unknown situations. These feelings can alter a child’s cognitive skills making learning more challenging (Edutopia).

Self Exclusion

This one may not be so obvious. When a child experiences social isolation they may start to exclude themselves more often because it becomes an expectation. If a child always feels they are going to be the last to get picked for group work in class, then they are likely to retreat from engaging with others. The less they engage, the less they get to know others around them. Their expectations are then met and they end up in a vicious cycle of isolating themselves (BBC).

The Amplification of Social Isolation

Contributing factors enhance the likelihood of experiencing social isolation. Children with either physical or mental disabilities are more likely to feel socially isolated (Contact). Therefore, it is especially important to help these children feel included.

How To Reduce the Effects of Social Isolation

Kids in snow

Prolonged social isolation impacts the mind, mood, and even the body. Therefore, it’s important to reduce the effects. Here are just some ways to help children deal with social isolation: 

1. Create new ways to come together. Due to the pandemic, engagement is entirely different than it used to be. Children may be distance learning, or if they are learning in person, they are wearing masks and are socially distanced. Therefore, it’s important to create new ways to interact with friends online or in a small playgroup. Children need more interactions outside of school to help them cope.

2. Help children experience mindfulness. Mindfulness is about staying in the moment and not worrying about the future. It eliminates what-ifs and creates a sense of peace and calm ( Helping children to cut themselves some slack and stay grounded, helps them to deal with the impact of social isolation.

3. Encourage them to play outdoors. Staying indoors can amplify feelings of claustrophobia, and going outside can relieve that shut-in feeling. Getting some vitamin D may be just what they need. Vitamin D is a mood booster and has been linked with reducing depression (Healthline).

4. Engage in inclusivity programs. Inclusivity programs can help children feel less socially isolated due to physical or mental differences. These programs also help prevent bullying and intolerance, which means fewer children will experience social isolation caused by others.

5. Communicate with them. Let your child know that you are aware of additional stresses due to social isolation. Be available to listen when they need to vent so they know they have you to lean on.

Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs for students, teachers, and parents. From programs on inclusivity, mindfulness, positive parenting programs, SEL programs for elementary schools, conflict resolution strategies for students, and more, Soul Shoppe helps children navigate healthy ways to interact in the world.

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Every Cent Helps

Did you know?

You can support Soul Shoppe every time you use your Amazon Prime account? All you have to do is:

  1. Sign in to your Prime account using
  2. Select Soul Shoppe Programs as the organization you want to support.
  3. Remember to use when you shop.

Details about Amazon Smile are here.

Get Your Change On! Recap

In order to become a change-maker, you must first learn to adapt to change in a healthy way.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment — although change is necessary, it can also be extremely difficult.

It can cause our emotional balloons to fill up and be on the verge of leaking.

It can cause us to seek comfort in ways that are harmful to ourselves.

It can even cause us to have a negative outlook every time we are approached with something new.

But here is a reminder that how you adapt to change depends on how you react to change.

Read that again.

If we dig deep, lean into our resiliency and approach change with a curious mind, we can face big changes with more confidence, we can build better habits to manage uncertainty and most importantly, we can manage difficult emotions and empty our emotional balloons.

Then change not only becomes possible, it becomes fun!

And who doesn’t love fun?

In this month’s community event, we explored many healthy ways to cope with change that leave us feeling comforted, energized, and excited to move forward with the unexpected.

Get Your Change On! was a truly transformational experience where we played fun games, shared insightful stories, and even shook a tail feather!

Don’t just take our word for it! Check out this exciting recap video from Dr. Pooch:

Get Your Change On! centered on creating an open and safe space to hold important conversations around change and learn different ways to adapt, express emotions, and approach change differently in the future.

… and as you know, change is something we will have to constantly deal with it.

Something that has definitely shifted in the lives of our kiddos and even adults, is that there are now many conversations being had or shared in the media around the differences in the world — differences in cultures, race, and status. These conversations are far from easy but they are so necessary to have so that we can strive and hope for a future filled with community and compassion…

… a future where we can recognize and appreciate all differences.

The harsh reality is that when we recognize differences, we are forced to change how we look at the world.

And frankly, if you don’t know where to start with that shift, change can feel really scary and that’s okay.

Here at Soul Shoppe, we take pride in honoring, recognizing, and appreciating all the things that make each of us unique. Now, we want to share that same outlook with you and your kiddos.

We invite you to join Respect Differences, an on-demand course where kids are guided through lessons that will help them build up their self-esteem so that they can show more empathy toward people with ideas, appearances, likes, and dislikes different from their own.

This can ignite a beautiful change in our hearts, our lives, and our communities.

And that’s a change we’d love to see!

Interested in learning more about Respect Differences? Click the button below for more information!


Now, we want to know what you thought of our virtual event. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a school administrator, we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve our programs to best serve your kids and students. 

Simply click here to take a very brief survey (only 3 questions!) and give us your feedback!


Keep up with the latest at Soul Shoppe by signing up for our newsletter! 

In this monthly email, we provide you with the tools and resources to help your kids learn how they can embody and express their truths. We’ll also share upcoming events and other opportunities to engage with Soul Shoppe’s rich community of educators on a deeper level. Simply sign up below.

Gifts, Giggles & Goodness

Soul Shoppe’s virtual holiday celebration – Gifts, Giggles & Goodness – made it an incredible week for us. We hit record numbers of participants with well over 1200 kids joining in over the course of 3 days! 

Together we got crafty with homemade holiday gifts, giggled in more ways than we could count, and shared how small acts of kindness can make a big difference. Thanks to all who participated, our days have been a whole lot more joyous and bright.

The Good Goes Around! All it takes is one small act of kindness to turn someone’s day around and light up their face with a smile. Our big-hearted facilitator Ryan taught us to get creative with crazy gifts and how we can practice more kindness to spark joy this season. Our big-hearted facilitator Dara helped us get our giggles out!

Now we want to know what you thought of our virtual events this year. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a school administrator, we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve our programs to best serve your kids and students. 

Simply click the button below to take a very brief survey (only 3 questions!) and give us your feedback.

We wish you lots more laughter, love, and joy this holiday season, and look forward to seeing you again on Zoom in the new year!

Join our “The Power of Allyship” 3-Part Lesson Series

Dear Soul Shoppe Community,

Thank you again to the 300+ kids and families who showed up for our Live Lesson last Monday to talk about racism.

Conversations about racism are hard and we are grateful that so many of you are willing to lean in to talk, listen, share and learn together! Together we are better!

We took a big step by participating in an initial session… and there’s so much more we can experience together. We invite you to join our 3-part “The Power of Allyship” series for more conversation, sharing and supporting.

What is “The Power of Allyship” series?

With the big events around racial justice taking place in our country, young people may feel confused and fearful. How do we supply them with the tools they need to grow in healthy ways? Young people are observant and need supportive context and expressive outlets. In this three-part series, children will have a chance to express their feelings, think about relevant actions, and take a stand as allies with one another. This is a powerful way for families to begin and deepen their conversations around racism.

Appropriate for ages 5-12 years old, though all are welcome! Even if you missed a lesson, you can still join. Recordings will be sent when you register so you can catch up.


Session 1: The Power of Allyship, Thursday, June 18 from 1:30-2:15

Session 2: Raising Youth Voices, Thursday, June 25 from 1:30-2:15

Session 3: Standing Together, Thursday, July 2 from 1:30-2:15

Each live session will have a digital follow up activity for the family to continue the learning at home together.

Please join Soul Shoppe co-founders vicki abadesco! and Joseph Savage and big-hearted facilitators Arek Bryant and Anthony Jackson as we continue the conversation with young people about racism, protests, allyship and belonging.

We are offering this 3-part special series for young people and families on a sliding scale from $20-$100.  

Join here.

Kids Say The Smartest Things Recap

Thank you for attending Soul Shoppe’s virtual game show, Kids Say the Smartest Things!

We had a blast sharing superhero trivia and imitating animal sounds, talking about polar bears and playground problems, but more importantly: your kids had a lot of wise insights to share.

They showed us how to navigate tough conversations, how to face overwhelming emotions, how to stand up to peer pressure, and much, much more. All this just goes to show that kids have innate peacemaking and problem solving skills. We adults could probably learn a thing or two!

Thanks to your little ones and their profound kid wisdom, we feel that we have a much brighter future ahead of us. 

Now we want to know what you thought of our virtual events this year. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a school administrator, we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve our programs to best serve your kids and students. 

Simply click the button below to take a very brief survey (only 3 questions!) and give us your feedback.

If you missed out, we’ll be sharing the recap video soon.

Mindfulness in the Classroom

When people think of mindfulness, they often think of meditation for adults. However, children can learn mindfulness with incredible emotional, physical, educational, and social benefits. In this article, we discuss the benefits of mindfulness for children and provide examples of mindfulness activities for the classroom.

What is Mindfulness

child meditating - mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn over 30 years ago. This practice is also known as Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It is defined as: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” (Child Mind Institute) This mindfulness practice is well known for teaching children to focus on the present moment while easing anxiety. 

Benefits of Mindfulness

mindfulness in the classroom

The benefits of mindfulness in the classroom are vast. School environments may present stressful situations for children, both socially and academically. However, these stressors can be mitigated with mindfulness. Furthermore, studies have shown that learning mindfulness helps increase students’ focus, which helps them academically, while also helping them avoid negative behaviors (Harvard). 

One study, conducted by researchers at the Boston Charter Research Collaborative, showed incredible promise. The researchers included staff from MIT, Harvard, and others. They studied 6th graders who learned mindfulness in an 8-week course. The results showed that the students who participated in the research study had lower stress, and were more able to focus and regulate their emotions. Brain scans also demonstrated that the part of the brain that responds to stress had responded less to stressful stimuli. 

In a similar study, Stanford University studied students in 4th to 6th grade over 8 weeks of mindfulness training. They found that the participants had significant decreases in anxiety, and were less emotionally reactive. Additionally, students felt more able to handle challenges in their daily life, and also felt control over their behavior. Lastly, like the Harvard study, students had increased focus and experienced a sense of well-being (Child Mind Institute). 

These results are so important because it shows that children thrive academically and emotionally when they are able to focus and be present. Reducing anxiety and stress increases students’ ability to focus and retain information, which is critical to their success. On a social-emotional level, children experience more acceptance and positive interactions with mindfulness. By avoiding negative behaviors and reactive emotions, their interactions with peers and teachers improve. This fosters a rich dynamic where students can grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Therefore, a mindfulness curriculum can play an important part in the classroom.

Mindfulness in the Classroom Activities

children in a classroom - mindfulness in the classroom

How can you teach mindfulness in the classroom? There are numerous ways to incorporate mindfulness activities. Many of them take 5 minutes or less and provide an excellent start to each students’ day. Here are some mindfulness in the classroom activities you can incorporate into your classroom:

1. Guided Meditation

This is surprisingly easy with apps that do the work for you. Have students sit or lie down with the lights dimmed, and encourage all students to participate in a guided meditation. If students do not want to participate, simply have them sit quietly. Praise the students who did the activity and ease back into the classroom setting by discussing how they feel afterward (VeryWellMind). 

2. Guided Activities

One example of a guided activity is to have students mindfully eat a raisin or piece of fruit (Vanderbilt). Students can touch, look at, and chew a raisin for a full 5-10 minutes. This activity encourages self-awareness and increases their attention span. Additionally, this activity can teach children to slow down and appreciate life moment to moment. Students can journal afterward about the experience or discuss it in a large group. 

3. Journal Writing

This activity is appropriate for children ages 6 and up. However, younger children can draw pictures instead. Appropriate writing prompts can include questions such as: what are three beautiful things you heard today? Or, what are three urges you resisted today? For older students, these prompts can become even more thought-provoking and challenging to get them thinking introspectively. (Positive Psychology).  

4. Mindful Breathing

Teaching students breathing techniques is another great way to teach mindfulness. Helping students to focus on their breathing is an important technique for stress reduction. Students can sit or stand, and inhale air through the nose for 3 seconds, hold for 2, and exhale for 4 out of the mouth. For best results, it is important that students stay focused and aware of their breath and how they feel during the exercise (Berkeley). 

5. Mindful Body Scan

In this activity, students should either sit or lie down. This activity begins with focusing on breathing to relax. Then, students are asked to relax their bodies bit by bit. Instruct them to start at their feet and move upwards slowly to their head, until every part of their body is relaxed. It requires concentration and commitment, and rewards students with deep relaxation while providing relief from stress and anxiety. (University of Minnesota). 

Vary mindfulness activities to help students stay engaged and focused. 

Mindfulness curriculum does not have to take long—in fact, just 5-10 minutes a day. The time spent on these activities is often returned, as student behaviors and focus are improved. Less time is needed to address behavioral issues. This allows the teacher to teach and the students to learn. By providing mindfulness in the classroom, we empower children to be successful socially, emotionally, and academically. That is worth a few minutes each day!  


Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs, including SEL programs for elementary schools, and programs on mindfulness, inclusivity, allyship, conflict resolution strategies for students, and more.


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Child Mind Institute, Harvard, HelpGuide Harvard, Positive Psychology, Stanford, University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt, VeryWellMind


Peacemaker Spotlight

This month, we’re celebrating Kirstin
Lenane, Counselor and Peacemaker
Liaison at Westlake Elementary.

Soul Shoppe on the Radio – 94.1 KPFA

Host Timothy Regan welcomes you to learn peacebuilding skills along with the people and stories of Soul Shoppe – our own Bay Area peacebuilding children’s educational fun-team!  This nonprofit teaches healthy relationship and conflict management skills to thousands of children K-8th grade every year, with colorful, fun events.

Soul Shoppe team members Anthony Jackson and Paul Himmelstein share stories and demonstrate what we all needed to learn in grammar school – simple, powerful, reliable skills to understand ourselves and eachother, and to handle conflict so we can thrive together.

Soul Shoppe is a Bay Area nonprofit with a beautiful VISION: “A world where respect and empathy are the norm, and every child can thrive and shine!”  Their MISSION is:  “to create safe learning environments that bring forth a culture of compassion, connection and curiosity—eliminating bullying at the roots.”

Spring Clean Up

Let’s talk about mistakes.The big messy juicy mistakes–both the words we say and the ones we don’t. The places where we are not our best selves or the moments we wish we could do over. We are going to make mistakes. People are not born to be perfectionists, we are born to take risks, to try and to fail. We are, after all, human. So let’s admit that we all make messes.

We live in a world where we are told that faster is better. But in living out that value, we miss things; we miss people, and we don’t think we can slow down. We deliberately don’t attend to something we see. Or we tell ourselves that we will return to that person later when we have time, though that time never comes. In some cases faster is better, but that is rarely true for a human connection with someone. Building empathy and trust takes time. And moving quickly in our relationships with people can create confusion, hurt and misunderstanding. Fortunately, there is a way to genuinely repair the mistakes we will inevitably make with others.

At Soul Shoppe, we use the Clean-Up as a guide for young people to navigate through those mistakes. The Clean-Up is a five-step process focused on repairing harm. It starts with recognizing the harm that was caused, feeling the impact of it, and apologizing. When we understand the hurt from an action or behavior we were part of, we naturally want to learn what we could do instead and make a commitment to do things differently next time. The process ends with asking for forgiveness.

Why’s it’s Hard to Say Sorry

Young people are initially reluctant to use the Clean-Up. They sometimes have had the experience of being pushed into saying “sorry” before they actually feel that way. Or they’re told they won’t get in trouble if they tell the truth when we know there will be consequences. In these situations, young people feel blame and shame and rarely get to the important process of experiencing empathy, apologizing and making it right. When we have the intention to make it right and the willingness to listen, so much more connection and compassion is available. And the next time we make a mistake (and there will be a next time), we know we have a tool to help us clean it up rather than keep us separated.

The Clean-Up gives us a way to build connection, and through admitting our mistakes, it gives us access to our own power. We recognize that we have power to impact the people around us, to repair relationships and to understand that our mistakes can be part of our growth. When we frame young people’s mistakes positively as part of the way they’re powerful, it helps them build self-esteem rather than focusing on how they’re “bad.” It gives them more freedom in their lives.

As adult allies, we can be role models to show young people what it looks like when we take responsibility for the hurt we have caused. Is there a young person or adult in your life you could do a Clean-Up with? Someone you know you hurt or missed? This level of honesty and courage is what our young people are longing for. Try it on and see what happens in your relationships. It’s time for some Spring Clean-Up!

Summer Resources

Summertime is here and we realize it’s a different kind of summer. There is a constant urgency in our world. We feel concern and outrage for children and families. We see what happens when government policy lacks compassion. For some Americans, these policies and practices are all too familiar. For others, it’s an awakening. Our hearts ache knowing that people who need our help are instead treated with no regard for their basic humanity. We know that the damage being done to parents and children is devastating. We are inspired by the protests and creative acts of kindness and resistance from across the country. The practices of empathy and compassion are more important than ever, not only in our legislative policies, but in all our circumstances.

It’s important for us to continue to use our voices and the power we have in order to build the communities we want to see. At the same time, we hope that during this summer you find some relief from the pressures of our world. These two ideas can co-exist and thrive together.

We founded Soul Shoppe in 2000 with the core commitment to change school culture through connection and curiosity, teaching empathy and compassion skills in order to eliminate bullying at its roots. The organization has touched the lives of over half a million children through its workshops and Peacemaker program. We know the work that we do is the foundation for deep change in our culture and extends well beyond the classroom.

Summer Resources for Parents

We know that being a parent can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Circumstances are clearly not at their best right now. Where do you go for help? This month, we’re offering some resources to support parents and the adults who want to stand with the youth in their lives. We aren’t affiliated with these organizations and don’t receive anything in return. We’re sharing these links because we think they are potentially useful. Some resources are directly relevant to current events while others suggest ways to build empathy, compassion and listening.  And some resources are simply about fun activities to do together, because joy is the foundation from which we can act.

Immigration Resources:

How to Talk to Kids about Immigration and Family Separation

Know Your Rights Information on ICE and Immigration

Building Social Emotional Skills

Soul Shoppe Refresher Videos — building peacemaking skills–a great way to continue your or your child’s Soul Shoppe skills

Parent Resource Guide to Social Emotional Learning  blogs, articles, and videos for parents about fostering kindness, empathy, gratitude, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children.

Bullying Prevention Resources

Stop Bullying: What You Can Do

The Consequences of Bullying – Fact Sheet

A Snapshot of Bullying in America (infographic)

Un Vistazo al Acoso Escolar en America

Cyberbullying Facts (infographic)

Datos Sobre El Acoso Cibernetico

“What Parents Should Know About Bullying”

Ideas for Preventing Summer Slide

Summer Fun with the Brain in Mind

Preventing Summer Slide: Why Not Try Internet Research?

Parents: Inspiring Readers Through the Summer Slump

Preventing Summer Slide (on a Budget)

Encouraging Science at Home Is Easier Than You Think

General Resources for Parents

Parent Toolkit – Support for parents on many topics: Academics, Social/Emotional, Health & Wellness, Financial Literacy, College & Career.

Parents Guide to Student Success – to see what your child will be learning at each grade level

Teaching Empathy to Kids and Teenagers

While the focus in school is often on literacy and STEM subjects, emotional intelligence is an important part of learning. However, often there isn’t time to focus solely on emotional intelligence when already on a tight schedule. Fortunately, leading by example is one aspect of teaching emotional intelligence, especially the concept of empathy. Teaching empathy to kids is a matter of creating a safe environment for children to express themselves and ask questions. In other words, both teachers and parents can teach empathy through example and daily activities.

What Is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts, feelings or experiences of others. It is an action that requires being aware of or being sensitive to other people’s emotions. There are two aspects of empathy: affective empathy and cognitive empathy (UC Berkeley). Affective empathy is when you feel what another person is feeling and mirror them. Cognitive empathy is understanding the emotions of others. In this article, we’ll focus on cognitive empathy.

Empathy is a key ingredient in relationship building. Studies have shown that it helps to reduce prejudices, leads to greater happiness, and even improves health (UC Berkeley).

Teaching Empathy To Kids Through Daily Tasks

teaching empathy to kids through daily tasks

Parents or guardians can teach empathy to kids when conducting daily tasks such as catching the bus or when you’re at the store. Pointing out body language and explaining how someone else might be feeling enables young people to begin identifying a world outside their own. It is also important to encourage children to ask questions. When they ask questions, you know they are internalizing your explanations and can start to think for themselves, rather than relying on external guidance.


Teaching empathy to elementary students requires that they are given the opportunity to make mistakes. Younger children learn better from mimicking behavior. Therefore, being patient and allowing them a chance to make errors enables them to adopt this kind of behavior in the future when they are supporting their friends. It will also help them when resolving conflicts of their own. They begin to build a picture that emotions aren’t about expectations and planning, but about reacting to life as in unfurls before them. This will enable them to build healthy relationships with those around them. Especially in cases where the other children and people they come into contact with are different from them.


It is also crucial that you teach kids empathy by encouraging them to listen. This is not just listening to your explanations, but listening to their own thoughts of feelings and that of others. In these conversations, they have the opportunity to understand differences and develop the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Asking your children to think about their own thoughts and feelings is a starting point. Then they’ll need to apply that to how others may be thinking and feeling. A greater self-awareness develops a deeper understanding of emotions more generally.

How To Teach Empathy To A Teenager

how to teach empathy to a teenager

Teenagers are different from younger children as they stop mimicking behavior they learn from their teachers and parents or guardians. Instead, they begin to find their own way. Often these choices can seem like an act of rebellion. However, this is just a matter of trying to figure out the world in their own way. It is vital that you continue to allow teenagers to make mistakes as you would any young person, and that you continue to lead by example. As a role model, you can recall times you have also made mistakes and teach them empathy by practicing it yourself. 

At times, you may need to call out behaviors that are inappropriate; more so with teenagers than you would with younger children. However, this should not come as punishment. Instead, you must check and balance their reactions with your own response.  Contextualize the situation and create space for them to express themselves freely. By listening and responding accordingly, you are demonstrating empathy in your own actions. So, it is therefore reasonable that you ask them to do the same. This helps them to develop their conflict resolution skills as you aren’t shying away from more difficult conversations. At home or in school, they can practice empathy in a safe environment. Then they can apply this to situations they face in the real world.

Activities To Teach Empathy

There are many ways to actively teach empathy that supplement day-to-day interactions. Empathy activities for kids include stories, role-playing, and even creative writing or art. Here are a few:

Read. According to research, children who read fiction are more likely to understand other people’s emotions and intentions.

Study facial expressions. Children can learn to identify other people’s emotions by studying facial expressions. You can find a variety of worksheets and games online to help children better identify expressions and emotions.

Play games. When children compete in games they are creating a mental model of other people’s intentions and thoughts.

Play music in a group. A recent study showed that playing music together, such as in a band, increases empathy.

Sports. Sports and team activities provide children with knowledge of how others behave and why they behave in the ways they do in conversation with their own. In these instances, it is important to emphasize teamwork and sportsmanship above competition and winning.

Active Imagining. Activities where children are actively imagining situations involving others is another great way to boost empathy.

Check out Soul Shoppe’s Pinterest board for activities on emotional intelligence and empathy. Experience the emotional intelligence online course for children in 4th and 5th grade.

Soul Shoppe creates cultures of compassion, connection and curiosity. We teach social emotional development to children, teachers and professionals across the U.S. 

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Culture of Inclusion

Tend to Feelings and Needs

We made it to June, and the end of another school year is here! In these busy days before we launch into summer, there seems to be an endless list of work to be done, meetings and events to attend, and people wanting to have important conversations. When we are pressed for time, our communication may not be at its best. Miscommunications and misunderstandings happen. We move so fast that it’s a challenge to think about what we are feeling and what we really need from others. It’s even a bigger challenge to take the time express these thoughts and feelings to someone to get clarification and, ultimately, connection.

At Soul Shoppe we use a tool to help us express our feelings and needs in a way that helps us keep our relationships healthy. It supports us to be heard so there can be more understanding with the people in our lives. Too often we don’t take the time to identify the words needed to share our true feelings about an experience. That can lead to resentment, unexpressed hurt, sadness or anger — and these feelings create a wall of separation between ourselves and the people we care about.

Welcome to the I-Message. The I-Message tool consists of four steps, each with its own small risk, where you have to get a little bit vulnerable and do things slightly differently in order to build stronger connections –both to ourselves and to others.

I feel … (usually a feeling word)
When …
I need … (what do YOU really need?)
Will you please …

And here’s how it might work in real life. We recently talked with a person who was having some challenging feelings with their spouse. They were upset that their spouse was sitting on the couch doing nothing. Initially, what they wanted to say was, “Will you get off the couch?!?” in a voice filled with attitude and accusation. We asked this person to talk more about what they were really feeling and what they needed, and they shared that they wanted connection. With that in mind, they created this I-Message:

I feel lonely
WhenI don’t have connection and attention
I need some time with you
Will you please let me know when we can connect?

Imagine that request came to you. Would you be receptive to that message and open to building connection? Probably. Entering into this process is about taking responsibility for ourselves. When we own what we feel and ask for what we need, we empower ourselves without disempowering someone else. That’s so much better than getting surprised by what we are feeling and not getting what we need!

We invite you to try out the I-Message the next time you feel yourself in a reaction. Take a step back and pause to notice and name what you are feeling. What happened just before the feeling? What do you need now? Then put it in the frame of an I-Message and say it to someone. Notice the response you get and how connection opens up. Most of all, notice the difference you feel within yourself. Every time we take the time to get in touch with our own feelings and have the courage to voice our needs, we take a step closer to creating the connected, loving relationships we want in our lives.

Spotlight on a Champion

Got Soul Shoppe?

Scheduling Now for the 2018-19 School Year

Are you thinking about bringing Soul Shoppe’s award winning programs to your school? Get in touch! Contact us for more information or to book for the 2018-19 school year. Find out what others have to say about the impact our programs have had.

Thank You 2020 PeaceMaker Students!

Dear Wonderful Peacemakers,

Hello!! Missing you all!! Thinking of you, and hoping you and your loved ones are all well and safe at home.


• Normally at this time of year, you would be having your End-of-Year Peacemaker Party with your Principal and Peacemaker Liaisons. Since that is not possible this time, we Peacemaker Trainers have a little something for you, by video instead.  Whether you had Dara, Arek or Jill as your Peacemaker Trainer this year, all three of our vidoes are for ALL of you, below…and your entire family, too! 🙂


• Also, for those of you who don’t know about this fun thing happening…we invite you and your whole family to join the awesome weekly games and contests that are going on at SOUL SHOPPE LIVE. Join HERE. We hope you love!

Arek shares stories and useful home practices for CHECKING IN WITH FAMILY, to help everyone get along wonderfully well. 

Jill and some adorable friends share the benefits of DROPPING YOUR STORY, to help people (and puppets!) get back to peace and fun at home.

Before you watch the next video,
grab some paper and things to draw and color with! Dara shows how to make your very own PEACEMAKER CELEBRATION CERTIFICATE, plus how to set up a Peacemaking Station or Peace Corner for the whole family to use and enjoy.

Whatever grade you are in, whatever peacemaking you have done, and whatever peace you continue to bring into the world, we are so proud of each and every one of you.  You have worked so hard, with so much courage, dedication and love. You make this world a more beautiful, happy and peace-filled place for everyone.


Thank you, Peacemakers!!!!!


😄💟🕊 Dara, Arek, Jill and the entire team at Soul Shoppe

The Same Same Different Game

“The things that make me different are the things that make me.” – Winnie The Pooh


We’re all different in our own unique ways. We have different appearances, talents, and abilities. We all think, feel, behave, and believe differently. That’s what makes life so interesting!

Sometimes we celebrate these differences. We heap praise on people like Steve Jobs, Serena Williams, and Greta Thunberg who break the mold and challenge the status quo. But sometimes we exclude, judge, or disparage people because we think they aren’t like us

At Soul Shoppe, we show kids that if we just take the time to look beneath the surface, we’ll find that we have a lot more in common than we think. But how do we learn to really see beyond our outer appearances and get to know someone for what’s inside?

We can play the Same Same Different Game.

Last week, over 350 students joined us to play what we call the Same Same Different Game! How does it work? Well, we asked kids to look at two different people –me and our big-hearted facilitator Arek – and describe the differences and similarities they saw.

They pointed out that I’m a girl and Arek is a boy. They noted that we both have dark hair, though mine’s long and his is short. But our gender and our hair don’t make us who we are! There’s so much more that makes us unique, and these young people know it. They understand how to find the things we all have in common, whether it’s a love of dancing or a distaste for brussel sprouts.

But learning to appreciate and honor our differences takes practice. That’s why we created Respect Differences.

Respect Differences is an online course designed to teach K-6th grade kids how to recognize and appreciate all the things that make us unique. In this on-demand course, kids are guided through lessons that will help them build up their self-esteem so that they can show more empathy toward people with ideas, appearances, likes, and dislikes different from their own. 

We show kids how they can play the Same Same Different Game to celebrate differences all the time. Visit our website and learn more. Or, you can click the button below.

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There’s No Such Thing As A Bully

At some point in our childhoods, most of us have been bullied. If not bullied ourselves, we’ve witnessed someone else getting bullied. Some of us have even been the bully. So how can we say “there’s no such thing as a bully”? It’s a radical proposition, and it’s one of the core assumptions we make at Soul Shoppe.

Over the years, we’ve had many opportunities to interact with children who were identified as bullies. When we were able to get beneath the behavior, to really connect with them, we saw every time that there was a need not getting met. Something was going on – a parent was ill, parents were divorcing, violence in the environment – there was a lack of safety and security or some overwhelming event. Children who have to navigate these situations may feel isolated, misunderstood, afraid and lonely. The bullying behavior meets a small piece of their need, even if it’s in a negative way. They get attention. They have power. Their actions matter. Or maybe it just feels good to have someone else feel afraid and upset too.

When we look underneath any bullying situation, there is always a young person with big feelings and they don’t know what else to do. They have emotions they don’t know how to manage. Bullying is a symptom of a bigger problem, never the root of the problem. And those big emotions didn’t start with them.

There’s no such thing as a bully. There is only a kid who is hurting and needs support. When we label a child a “bully,” we make their behavior define who they are. We start to look at and interact with them as if THEY are the problem, instead of addressing the behavior and where it’s really coming from. Changing how we view the behavior is one of the ways we can stop bullying at its roots. We can give kids tools, time and space to manage their emotions. We can show them how to listen to and have empathy for one another.

Our Free To Be assembly is a great way to introduce these practices into schools. Educators who want to deepen their anti-bullying and community-building practices can get a few ideas here. And finally, check out Soul Shoppe founder Vicki Abadesco’s Tedx Talk to find out what happened when one class “bully” was given a chance to be heard.

Tools of the Heart – our first course is online!
Soul Shoppe has been working hard to adapt to this “new normal” so we can continue providing your kids with the tools to thrive, even in the face of profound challenges. As a result, we’re proud to announce our first entirely digital course. 

Tools of the Heart combines breathing techniques, sharing exercises, art projects, and interactive videos to teach kids problem-solving and communications skills they can actually use in their everyday lives, whether they’re in the classroom or at home. This course was specifically designed by our SEL experts to help kids overcome isolation and strengthen their relationships in these challenging times. So far, the results speak for themselves!

If you haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, we urge you to check out the free demo and learn more about how social emotional learning can empower your kid to share courageously and listen with compassion.

Here’s what one parent had to say about our online classes last Spring:

“Your online classes are a godsend right now as we find our way through educating our children at home. Thank you for doing this! My son is 9. [Soul Shoppe] is his FAVORITE thing to do EVERY DAY since you started. He LOVES it. He is literally peacemaking for our family. THANKS.” 
Check out the demo.
We Love Educators – October’s celebration!

Last month we took some time to share appreciation and gratitude for educators everywhere with our first ever virtual event. If you were on call, you know how surprisingly connected we all felt thanks to Adorable’s guided meditation and the musical talent of our special guest,  

We also learned how to empty our over-full balloons. There is so much happening in the world, in our classrooms, and in our homes that sometimes we can forget to take a breath. Having a chance to just slow down and feel, then share our feelings was a powerful and healing experience.

Thank you to those of you that joined us, and if you didn’t have the chance to participate, you can watch our recap video here.

We’re Hiring!


Earn $200/session while making an impact in the lives of parents and their kids.

Soul Shoppe is an award-winning Oakland-based program that delivers live workshops and trainings to elementary schools throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Our in-school programs focus on developing students’ social-emotional skills, bullying prevention strategies and peace-building tools. Our Parent Nights bring the fundamentals of our programs empowering parents with more empathy and better communication skills. We are looking to fill Parent Night facilitator/trainer positions for the 2018-19 school year.

Parent Night Workshop Facilitator Job Description
● PN trainers facilitate 60-90 minute sessions teaching core communication and empathy skills for children aged 5-12. Groups range from 20 – 100.
● PN trainers need to learn the script/flow for the evening, basics of Soul Shoppe programs/core skills, and must be able to engage large audiences with warmth, compassion and fun!
● Teaching, training, educational and/or performance experience a plus
● Must have a car and be able to travel to different schools sites in the morning or evening.
● Must be available to train for up to 10 hours in August 2018 (we’ll create training based on your availability) and attend group audition/interview on August 14th from 6-8:30pm.

All Soul Shoppe facilitators work part time, 1-2 trainings per week (Sept-May). The bulk of parent evenings happen September to December. We train facilitators thoroughly in August to prepare for the school year. Facilitators are assigned to specific schools based on school needs and location and have a special relationship with each school they serve throughout the Bay Area.

Learn more at
Stand & Deliver (group interviews/auditions) Tuesday, August 14, 6pm-8:30pm at our office in Oakland.

NEXT STEPS: By Thursday, AUGUST 9, 2018 Send your resume and cover letter to: [email protected]

Include in cover letter:
1. Why this position speaks to you 2. Your experience with facilitating either communication skills or empathy building skills 3. Your experience with elementary school parents and kids

Youth Making Peace Every Day

Our young people are speaking up. At March for Our Lives rallies across the country, they showed up to hear and hold each other, and to work toward a simple dream of safe schools. Their message, their leadership and the community they have built is inspiring. By sharing their feelings and their needs, these young people have found common ground in their experiences, whether they come from Florida or Chicago or Los Angeles or anywhere in between. Because they are listening and actually hearing each other, they have been able to build a movement.

We know the power and healing that comes from being heard. We know that we need allies who will help us to express our feelings in healthy ways. Allies give us the support we need. With the help of our allies we can create a safe environment so that everyone can speak their truth – even when we don’t understand or when it’s hard to hear. Allies help us to work toward solutions that serve the best interests of all. This is the role our Peacemakers have on school playgrounds across the country.

Peacemakers are 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students who are trained to help their classmates resolve conflicts that occur on the playground, in classrooms, or the cafeteria. They learn conflict resolution skills, communication tools and leadership. When a conflict arises, two peacemakers literally walk their peers through the Soul Shoppe Peace Path. They use our seven-step process and work through the problem until it’s resolved.

While the process is important, the Peacemakers themselves and the qualities they embody are the heart of the program. They are allies to one another in facilitating the peace process and allies for their classmates to ensure that each person is heard. Peacemakers come to every interaction with ally strategies that change the dynamic from punishment or shame to mutual understanding.

One of the strategies they use is “dropping the story.” Every one of us has the impulse to form an opinion about a person whether we know them or not. To be an ally, it’s important to let go of assumptions and judgments. Peacemakers learn to counteract that impulse by telling themselves, “I’m dropping the story.” This is easier said than done! Try it for yourself. For the next five people you see, actively interrupt your thoughts by saying, “I’m dropping my story.” You might be surprised at how quickly we create stories about everyone we encounter. Notice what changes in your interactions when you let go of them.

The next ally strategy is “open mind.” An open mind includes actively listening with ears, eyes and heart. Peacemakers look for feelings that aren’t explicitly voiced, but can be read from body posture, from the tone of someone’s voice, from the look in their eyes or from a gut feeling they have. Our bodies are sensitive to other people’s emotions, and we can generally read other people well when we take the time to do it. Taking a moment to stop and breathe and tune in to someone else allows the Peacemakers to see what is going on. As a result, the person feels genuinely heard, and being deeply heard is sometimes all a person needs. Having someone stop and listen is powerful medicine.

A third ally strategy is “listen to all sides.” Peacemakers remain neutral, not taking sides or deciding who is right or wrong. As an ally, the goal is to understand the needs of each person. Right/wrong is not an important concept. Peacemakers listen, not to decide or to judge, but to help each person speak and be heard.

These are a few of the tools that Peacemakers put into action. As you can imagine, when schools have Peacemakers, the entire culture of conflict shifts. Disagreements are settled not by who can yell the loudest or run away the fastest or with a quick punishment, but by listening deeply to one another’s needs. When students receive the tools/support to solve problems themselves, they learn that conflict can be an opportunity to build connection.

We’re inspired by the power of our young people. Let’s continue to give them opportunities to step into leadership in our classrooms, schools and communities. Let’s support our next generation of leaders by sharing our skills, resources and knowledge. Most importantly, let us be allies to them by listening deeply and hearing what they truly need.

Would you like more Soul Shoppe in your home? We’ve put together a special package for you! Our new Peacemakers @ Home Kit contains two of each of our highly coveted peace path (laminated, 8 1/2″ x 11″) and peace keys. Instructions on how to get started are included. Order between now and April 20th and use code PMAPR to receive free standard shipping. Click here.

Contact Amanda to find out how to bring our Peacemaker Program into your favorite elementary school.