Author: Betsy Caruso

Betsy Caruso is a Certified Mindfulness Instructor with more than fifteen years of experience working with children, both in one-on-one and classroom settings.
Guest Post from a Mindful Teacher, Ashleigh L’Heureux

Guest Post from a Mindful Teacher, Ashleigh L’Heureux

 

Mindful Moments in Our First and Second Grade Inclusion Classroom

In a democratic and inclusive school where students have autonomy and work with a variety of peers, my first and second grade classroom can feel quite chaotic at times. With art supplies spread around, conflicts arising in the block area, and a child crying on the rug, teachers and students can feel overwhelmed. Our class has found mindfulness to be one way to regain some peace and calmness in a busy, fast-paced day.

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The Pause that Refreshes – Ideas for mindfully beginning the school year

The Pause that Refreshes – Ideas for mindfully beginning the school year

It’s summer. Kids are out playing, or at camp or daycare, or on vacation with family. There are a few of precious days of relaxed schedules and potential adventure awaiting the students who will fill our classrooms next month.

Unless you happen to be a teacher, particularly a newly minted one.

Welcome to August. While much of the world is still focused on fun, teachers and other caring adults in schools are already busy.

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Testimonials

Testimonials

What Students say:
“Once upon a time I was about to lose my head at A… because we were in an argument. And I was about to yell at her, but I remembered mindfulness and I calmed down and said sorry— 4th Grade Student
Once upon a time I was about to lose my head at R… because we were in a fight (argument). And I was about to yell at him, but then I remembered mindfulness and I calmed down and said sorry. (True story)”—4th Grade Student 
What Teachers say:
It gave me different strategies to settle myself in the classroom.
I use the strategies taught by Betsy to calm students’ bodies and focus their minds on a particular task.
When I can, it allows me to take some needed breaks during the day.
Taking time before responding to student behaviors that frustrate me.
From time to time, I see one of my students close his eyes and breathe deeply. This is a student who really enjoyed the program and was using it often outside of school. He uses this strategy when he is feeling overwhelmed or is lacking focus. It helps him get back in the swing of things and be productive!
Training Resources

Training Resources

These programs are widely used in training teachers to bring mindfulness to their classrooms.*

Mindful Schools

Mindful Life Project

MindUp

Mindfulness in SchoolsProject

*Important Note. Mindfulness training is not a brief or perfunctory exposure. Certified mindfulness teachers have spent hundreds of hours of study in neuroscience, classroom management, social and emotional skills development, and maintaining their personal mindfulness practice. Be sure to engage a certified, experienced mindfulness instructor

Articles and Studies

Articles and Studies

Read about the science and application of mindfulness for school-age kids

When Mindfulness Meets the Classroom

Being Mindful About Mindfulness, A Skeptic’s Investigation

Calming the teenage mind in the classroom

Should Schools Teach Kids to Meditate?

Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes of a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Urban Youth

School-Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT

The Potential Benefits of Mindfulness Training in Early Childhood: A Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective

Blogs and Videos

Blogs and Videos

Blogs worth investigating, videos worth watching

Mrs. Mindfulness

Mindful

Mindful Schools

Rick Hanson, PhD

Video: Mindfulness is a Superpower

Video: Release – A Whirlwind of Daily Pressures: How Students Cope

Video: “Just Breathe” – How Can Children Process Difficult Emotions?

Video: “Room to Breathe” – Transforming a Public Middle School Community

Video: Aliza and the Mind Jar

Video: Transforming a Future: Mindfulness in Education

Video: I Am Mindful

Video: What is Mindfulness? 

Books, Games and Activities

Books, Games and Activities

Here are some books, games and other ideas for understanding and practicing mindfulness with kids:

Puppy Mind, by Andrew Jordan Nance

Anh’s Anger, by Gail Silver

Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy, by Scott Menchin

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), by Eline Snel

A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles, by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Want Monsters: And How They Stopped Ruling My World, by Chelo Manchego

Mind Bubbles: Exploring mindfulness with kids, by Heather Krantz

The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games, by Annie Buckley

mindful games book and activity cards, from Susan Kaiser Greenland

Making a Mind Jar

FAQ

FAQ

What is mindfulness, anyway?

Mindfulness is paying friendly attention to what is happening in our minds and in our bodies in the present moment, without judgment. Mindfulness helps “train our brain” to respond, rather than react, to sensation and emotion.

How does mindfulness work?

Mindfulness actually changes the brain! It acts in three primary areas of the brain to reduce the “fight/flight/freeze” reaction, regulate emotions and behaviors, and helps us make better decisions.

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

Growing Responsive Minds uses the terms interchangeably.

Isn’t This Buddhism?

No. Both mindfulness and meditation have been a core part of most Buddhist traditions for over 2,500 years. However, mindfulness in Growing Responsive Minds is a science-based, completely secular practice. It can be used with any faith tradition or none at all.

How can Mindfulness help me or my students?

Mindfulness techniques can be used to improve self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness, acceptance, and compassion. In the classroom, mindfulness helps kids deal with conflict, respond more calmly to difficult emotions, and stay focused. It also increases empathy for others.

Teachers who practice mindfulness report less stress and “burnout”, feel calmer, more effective, and are more available to students, families, and fellow teachers.

What does mindfulness in school look like?

I have worked with kids in and out of classrooms for more than 15 years. I bring experience with different learning styles, familiarity with subject areas, and sensitivity to classroom culture into my mindfulness teaching.

Growing Responsive Minds combines short lessons (typically 20-45 minutes) that teach both formal meditation—sitting, walking, even eating!—with bringing mindful moments to everyday living. We can be mindful anywhere, at any time.

Stress and American School Children

Stress and American School Children

In our test-obsessed school culture, there is often a strong bias toward using broad, relatively shallow assessments to quickly judge students’ academic performance and potential. These tests do not consider environmental, emotional, or clinical factors that may have marked effects on how a child gets along in school.

Happily, more and more schools now have student support teams, comprised of the classroom teacher(s), specialists, counselors, and advisers, each of whom brings a perspective that can deepen the way the school understands and responds to a child.

However, more than 21% public school children in the U.S. now live below the poverty line*. Schools now deliver much more than the Three Rs to their students; they routinely provide free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, clothing, supplies, and support for those needing shelter.

Many schools are doing remarkable work to meet the needs of every child. But one intractable factor looms large in the lives of everyone in a school community: STRESS.

Mindfulness can help.

Simply put, Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of our physical and emotional state from moment to moment, without judging them. This practice, now being implemented in thousands of schools worldwide, helps children and adults learn to respond, rather than react, to stimuli that can derail learning and present obstacles to social and emotional growth.

Numerous studies show that mindfulness brings about greater attention, emotional regulation, compassion, and calm in schools where it is practiced.

I’ve found that teachers benefit as much as the students, as they sit in on mindfulness sessions! If you’d like to learn more about bringing Mindfulness to your school, click here.

*http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-soc-060116-053252