Mindfulness in the Lower School

LREI
Last year, we launched a “mindfulness” initiative in the Lower School. Mindfulness means being fully aware in the present moment without judgment. It means knowing what is on your mind without automatically acting on it. From research, mindfulness is a tool for coping, self-regulation, and cultivating compassion for others. Various forms of mindfulness have been practiced for thousands of years and in many cultures around the world.
We started the mindfulness initiative with the faculty because one needs to experience mindfulness in order to teach it authentically. Training, weekly experiences, and promotion of a mindful environment were provided for faculty. As teachers’ personal practices took root, mindfulness practices spread and spilled over into classrooms. Many teachers included mindfulness in morning meetings and as tools when students needed to take a break from learning or to cope with their emotions. Some examples include: the Fours doing breath exercises to start rest time, Sarah’s first graders taking turns daily ringing a singing bowl and calmly listening until the sound ended, both second grades starting their day with various breathing practices and then using those skills whenever the class needed to refocus for learning, and Dan’s fourth grade students leading breathing practices in the morning and after recess as well as teaching  breath practices to some third graders. By the end of the year, staff noticed improved self-regulation and easier transitions to learning with students who practiced mindfulness regularly. Some of those students said that they slept better, could concentrate more with academic work, and remembered what they learned more easily.

After a year of exploration and learning, we are excited this year to deepen and expand mindfulness in LREI,
especially the Lower School. Teachers will continue to receive resources and support for their own growth and for practice with their students through the weekly staff letter, a team drive, and optional group practice sessions. Celeste, Judy, and Sarah will provide consultation as needed, as well as teach skills to students. The weekly group mindfulness sessions will now be open to all LREI faculty and staff. A mindful environment will grow through signs in the building, as well as in designated mindful spaces in the Lower School. As we widen the circle of mindfulness in our community, opportunities will be provided for parents. We will begin with a parent talk with Celeste, Sarah, and Judy. Knowing some of you are experienced with mindfulness, we welcome your input. 

As they grow more familiar with mindfulness practices, your children may begin to bring some techniques home. Here are some resources for you and activities for you and your children:

1.“Why Mindfulness is the New Super Power” by Dan Harris:  Dan Harris

2. Full Catastrophe Living, Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn: Full Catastrophe Living

3. Mindful Kids: 50 Activities for Calm, Focus and Peace: Mindful Kids Activities

4. Videos:
-Belly Breathe With Elmo: Belly Breathe
-Mindfulness for Children: annakaharris.com
-Mindfulness Activities and videos: Positive psychology program

“Just breathe,”
Celeste, Sarah, Judy
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