Mindfulness in Education
“We teach children to solve complex math problems. We teach children to read great literature. But who teaches them to be human?” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness Practices in Schools
Mindfulness based practices appeal to children, adolescent and teens because they are self-management techniques and allow the student to play in a critical role in their own growth and development.
“Although further study is needed, these results indicate that high-risk adolescents can sense the benefits of mindfulness meditation after just brief exposure to the practice.” –Wisner, B. L. (2013)
The Inner Resources Project offers proven methods and strategies, based in the evidence of challenging world.
Need for Mindfulness in Schools: Reality of Stress and Trauma
Teachers and schools are increasingly called on to address social and emotional learning for their students in addition to teaching subject matter. Children and teens are now experiencing stress at unprecedented levels. A child’s experience of stress may show up as anger, anxiety, depression and externalizing behaviors, as well as low self-esteem and self-confidence. Our current lifestyle of achievement expectations, busyness and hyper-scheduling has even spilled over to our children, not to mention the focus in schools on academic achievement based on test scores.
In addition to daily societal stress, the term “trauma” is more commonly being used to describe the depth of emotional and physical impact on children living in urban areas who have a direct and daily experience with violence, neglect, poverty, hunger, etc. There is also more documented research and greater understanding of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder among urban children and adolescents; a life lived with daily possibility of harm, personally experienced and/or witnessed. With support from parents, teachers and other professionals most students successfully cope with a crisis event and not suffer significant emotional consequences. However, for children with fewer resources and a daily exposure to trauma there is the possibility of the child developing more extreme reactions such as inability to sleep, quick to anger, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating and remembering.
Creating the Foundation for Positive Change
In Phase One, senior mindfulness instructors with the Inner Resources Project teach a 6-12 week introductory mindfulness series in the classroom. The key foundational concepts for this phase are: focus and attention, self-awareness skills, and kindness strategies for oneself and others.
Through the use of physical movement, games, creative craft projects and social-emotional learning activities students develop self-awareness skills and self-regulation abilities.
Mindfulness strategies in this first phase include:
- Mindful Movement (physical movement to improve concentration, imagination and self-regulation)
- Mindfulness in Action Games (activities to foster teamwork, communication, empathy and build trust)
- Creative Projects (self-expression to encourage imagination and self-acceptance)
- Breathing Breaks (attention to breathing to shift emotional state and re-focus)
Focusing on the Now
“We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now.”
In Phase Two, The Inner Resources Project focuses on implementing a 12-week curriculum to the students, adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 8-week MBSR program, for use with children and teens. In this series of lessons students are introduced to more formal mindfulness practices such a seated meditation, longer periods of concentration, silence, and visual metaphors and experiential activities to introduce more mindfulness qualities.
Additionally, in this second phase, the classroom teacher is integrated into the direct teaching of the basic centering exercises.
After the second phase, an Inner Resources Instructor offers continued support for teachers and identified parent leaders in cultivating their own mindfulness practice both in and out of the classroom.
What Educators and School Communities are Saying About Mindfulness
“We have been able to get to the real learning and connecting. Each morning, we start with creating space by taking a few deep breaths. Just those moments prepare us for the unexpected that shows up every day.” – Principal, Baltimore City Public Schools
“Mindfulness makes students ready to learn. There’s not much more to say than that.” – Teacher, 5th grade
Hear from teachers, first hand about the shift in students from mindfulness.
Here is some of the current research for mindfulness in education.