Mindfulness practices are an important part of social and emotional learning at Sea Crest School. To share these different lessons with you, we’re publishing a series of Lower and Middle School blog posts, beginning with Kindergarten.
Sea Crest teachers believe in the importance of mindfulness to reduce anxiety, stress, and reactivity. Rather than operating on “autopilot,” we want our students to live deeply, understand how they’re feeling, and pay careful attention to the world around them.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of active, open awareness. It also involves acceptance: attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are “right” or “wrong” in a given moment. Studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces negative emotions, stress, and the body’s susceptibility to illness. Studies also show that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems amongst students, improves their happiness levels, and increases their ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness show lower blood pressure, higher levels of happiness, and greater compassion and empathy.
What does mindfulness look like in Kindergarten?
“Mindfulness is about stopping to notice the present moment,” says Kindergarten Teacher Emily Travis. “In Kindergarten, it’s helpful for us to have something concrete to focus on: deep breaths with our hands on our bellies, or listening to hear the end of the song of the singing bowl. It’s all about going slowly and taking a moment to slow down.”
“We work on breathing techniques to calm our minds and bodies,” says Kindergarten Teacher Helen Ortiz. “Every morning, we gather all of the energy in the room and bring our fingertips to our foreheads. We bring all that energy down from our foreheads to our center and take two deep breaths together. It’s amazing how much that calms the students. They know it’s a tool they can use whenever they want, to find their best selves when they feel out of control. I tell them that it’s the hardest thing they’ll learn all year, and they practice at home, too. Some of them have said to their parents: ‘Mom, Dad, you need to center yourself: put your fingertips on your forehead and bring it all the way down to your center.'”