Mindful Movement Begins Early

Move Mindfully® Works for Washington County’s Youngest Residents

This summer, over two dozen child care providers across Washington County learned ways to keep children in their daycare active and focused, from the hottest days of summer to the frigid days of winter. Last year, Living Healthy Washington County (LHWC) learned that many local child care providers were interested in expanding adult-led physical activity in their curriculum. To meet this need, LHWC partnered with 1000 Petals to offer child care providers the Move Mindfully® training.

Providers find Move Mindfully® easy to use
Child care providers were surveyed immediately after the training and the first reactions were very positive. All providers reported that the Move Mindfully® techniques they learned were practical, easy-to-use, and useful for responding to behavioral issues in child care. Additionally, all child care providers shared they were likely to try the Move Mindfully® practices in their child care setting.

Providers continued using Move Mindfully®
LHWC followed up with child care providers two months after the training to see how the mindful movement techniques were working. Seventeen providers responded to the survey, and all of them used Move Mindfully® techniques in their child care. Two months after the training, 95% of providers used the techniques each week and 35% of those were using the techniques daily. Providers were most frequently using calming breaths (94%), yoga poses (89%), and the Hoberman sphere (89%) with children in their daycare. All providers reported that Move Mindfully® techniques were either helpful or slightly helpful in fostering children’s self-regulation, smooth transitions, de-escalation, and focus. Most providers (82%) reported Move Mindfully® was easy-to-use in the child care setting and the remaining 18% of providers considered the techniques somewhat easy-to-use. Most providers reported no barriers to using Move Mindfully®. The techniques require no special space, and no or low-cost equipment. Several child care providers shared their enthusiasm about using the techniques:

“The techniques are easy to use and of great value to me in my child care setting and the kids respond well to it.”

“I really love using everything I have learned with Move Mindfully. [It] has really calmed my children in my care.”

“The children look forward to our breathing exercises and yoga. It has been a great tool to use in my child care.”

 

Providers recommend Move Mindfully® to their peers
More than one provider mentioned they found the training so valuable they would recommend all child care providers participate in a similar training. Child care providers now have the skills to integrate mindfulness into their day while increasing physical activity for Washington County’s youngest residents.

Originally published at livinghealthywc.org

District 833 Mindfulness Curriculum

District 833 mindfulness curriculum starts with early grades

Written By: Jackie Renzetti |

See original post rivertowns.net

Red Rock Elementary School social worker Danette Jones leads students through a mindfulness exercise. Jackie Renzetti / RiverTown Multimedia

With a crowd of school staff, parents and students gathered for a final Battle of the Books competition at Red Rock Elementary School, one young competitor crossed her arms, slowly patting each one.

For the school’s social worker Danette Jones, the student’s mindfulness-based movement showed her lessons were sticking.

She brought the story to a Mindful Movement lesson, where she leads fourth graders through a series of yoga-based movements. The weekly sessions are part of South Washington County Schools’ budding mindfulness curriculum for elementary schools.

Over the past four years, the district has been working to integrate mindfulness skills into classrooms, which has allowed students to build relationships and academic skills by honing their ability to self-calm and focus. With positive results, staff began finding ways to work the techniques into different grade levels. The work is also part of an effort to meet recently added statewide socio-emotional learning benchmarks, Jones said.

“The sooner they learn them, the easier they are to use,” Jones said. “We don’t want to wait until middle school or high school where we have even bigger issues with mental health issues and stress.”

While the exact structure varies by school and age group, at Woodbury’s Red Rock Elementary School, students progress along a tiered system. In kindergarten, they learn about simple yoga-based movements, such as child’s pose, with the help of storytelling.

“One of the kindergarten teachers would do something like, ‘Start out as a seed,’ and that looks like child’s pose,” Jones said. “‘And now you’re going to grow, and kneel, and reach towards the sun.’ You just work all that into a story.”

In some of the first and second grade classrooms, teachers focused on a three-pose series to help students focus, calm themselves and feel awake. Students then made posters of themselves doing the poses to go around the classrooms.

In another case, students returned from winter break to a “deep breathing challenge,” where classrooms could track how often they practiced deep breathing. If they met 30 days, they earned another mindfulness session with Jones.

“Third grade is when we really hit it, because that’s when we start MCA testing,” Jones said.

The first year they began teaching mindfulness movements and self-calming techniques to third graders, 90% met or exceeded math standards on the MCA, Jones said.

“One of the teachers said to me, I was doing this all wrong — I was doing jumping jacks and trying to get them all revved for the test,” Jones said. “These are life skills. They are based in research and they work.”

High-achieving schools such as Red Rock often see anxiety among students because of high expectations, Jones said. It’s not uncommon for second graders to have bouts of perfectionism.

“Their personalities are more highly wanting to conform and be a pleaser, and so all that just kind of tips the scales a little bit in that direction,” she said. “We talk about how to make the brain happy, how to be positive … being able to talk positively and give a pep talk to yourself, that’s important.”

Yoga in the classrooms has become increasingly common nationwide. In Minnesota, Kathy Flaminio began teaching yoga-based movement to students ahead of the trend in 2005. The movement began growing between 2007 and 2010, she said.

Now, she serves as the national director of training development for Yoga Calm, a program in which she has guided thousands of professionals in yoga-based movement and emotional regulation strategies for use in settings including classrooms. She’s worked with teachers around the state, including staff at South Washington County Schools.

“We’re teaching teachers how to read bodies,” Flaminio said. “People are always trying to calm kids down, but they need to release. So if you’re really upset, let’s do a releasing breath, or a plank or down-dog. We teach how to use these different movements to get a certain effect. And the kids learn what works for them.”

As the trend has spread across districts and states, Flaminio says she’s seeing improvement in attendance, students’ time spent on tasks and relationship skills. She’s also had teachers report lower noise levels overall and less students being referred out of the classroom for behavior issues.

“Teachers are saying, this saved my life this year, or, this is totally changing how I’m teaching,” she said. “We get comments like this all the time. ”

Red Rock Elementary School social worker Danette Jones leads students through a mindfulness exercise. Jackie Renzetti / RiverTown Multimedia

Dakota County SHIP Grants

Funding Available for Dakota County, MN Public Schools

What is it?

The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) awards funds for schools to implement physical activity. The research is clear that healthy students are better learners and that being successful in school, can have life-long positive effects on one’s health. Schools are an ideal setting to lay the foundation for health for all students – and this is where YOU play such a key role! Our Move Mindfully® residencies, workshops and consultation are approved services. (Formally known as Moving and Learning)

Do I qualify?

Dakota County Public Health is now offering Smart Choices’ School Wellness Mini Grants. Here is what you need to know to qualify. Find the full application instructions here.

  • You must work at a public school in Dakota County
    • District level, school level, school-aged care sites, Pre-k sites or Alternative Learning Centers
  • You must have approval of your District Wellness Committee
  • Applications due October 18, 2019

What can I get?

Want to know more about what exactly the grant can cover? See our menu here for all of our services covered under the grant. If you have already done residencies, this is a great opportunity to deepen the strategies you are already using.

To support the continued integration of mindfulness, movement and social emotional practices through Move Mindfully®  Workshops, Yoga Calm® Training, Move Mindfully Residencies and Consultation.

What is the next step?

Once you and your team have decided what services are needed at your school, fill out this applicationWe know you are busy and we are here for you! Reach out to info@1000-petals.com and our team will support you with the application process.

We have even filled in our information to help you out! See these applications HERE.

PeaceMaker MN

PeaceMaker MN made Move Mindfully® implementation a reality.

Glacier Hills Elementary School of Arts and Science in Eagan, MN has long been a champion for social emotional learning. Spearheaded by a social worker passionate about the Move Mindfully® framework, a variety of funding sources were utilized. District grants, Give to the Max Day and PTO donations were just a few of the ways Glacier Hills got the ball rolling with anti-bullying initiatives. However, the full vision was made a reality with the matching funds program provided by PeaceMaker Minnesota.

Move Mindfully® Implementation

Glacier Hills decided to focus its social emotional learning objectives around the self-regulation, mindfulness, and movement strategies proposed by 1000 Petals. The funds were used over the past two years for staff development, residences and products.

The continued support of PeaceMarker Minnesota has helped provide sustainability by allowing a multi-year roll out of the programming. Alyssa Bartosh, Assistant administrator/Magnet Coordinator, says, “Over the course of our implementation we have been able to differentiate the offerings to meet the needs of our adult learners. This includes offering opportunities to extend and deepen the learning they bring forward to their students.”

Glacier Hills staff have reported noticing shifts in climate. An increase in self-regulation strategies has helped to create peaceful transitions and deepen community connections. The staff themselves are also utilizing the Move Mindfully strategies for their own self care throughout the day.

Connecting with PeaceMaker

PeaceMaker MN has humble beginnings. This organization started  with five households and just over $8,000. These friends had a vision of supporting schools committed to teaching social emotional skills. Now, over ten years later, the organization has grown to support over 30 partner schools and it looking to support more!

How can I get PeaceMaker MN to support my school?

Becoming a PeaceMarker parter school is a simple process. Partner schools are required to report on three school climate indicators.  Most schools in the network use data from the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ) for their indicators.  PeaceMaker Minnesota pays for the OBQ. Also, partner schools must pay a $100 membership fee or find a donor to contribute $100 to a PeaceMaker endowment fund to help sustain future assistance to schools. Learn more about becoming a parter school.

Once selected, your school will be eligible for $500 annually to fund your PBIS team and the amazing matching funds program. Your school can use the funding to pay for curriculum, help at-risk students, train teachers, bring in speakers or specialists to work with your students, to hire additional recess help or pay for other staffing.

PeaceMaker believes in Mindfulness and Movement as a core component to social emotional learning and anti-bullying initiatives. 1000 Petals is proud to support PeaceMaker MN in their mission.

To help create a more peaceful world, the mission of PeaceMaker Minnesota is to help schools be safer places, free from bullying and harassment, and to help youth  learn positive relation skills like empathy, respect, cooperation and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District elementary students “Move Mindfully”

Elementary students in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District are practicing breathing techniques and yoga-based movements through a new curriculum called Move Mindfully.

Move Mindfully Residency Instructor

Edward Neill, Vista View and Sky Oaks elementary schools are implementing the new curriculum after receiving funding through Dakota County Public Health. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, parents are invited to learn more about the program at a Move Mindfully open house at Sky Oaks.

“It is yoga-based movement, but its not yoga,” said Sarah Singleton, a first grade teacher at Sky Oaks. “It’s definitely a social, emotional curriculum where we are teaching self-regulation.”

Singleton said that students are learning to articulate how their bodies are feeling — the answer is often “wiggly.”

Move Mindfully is a new tool for her active classroom, she said. “Just Dance” videos on Youtube — which often left the students more amped-up and less ready to learn — have been replaced with movements such as the mountain pose and woodchopper pose.

A five-week classroom residency with a certified Move Mindfully curriculum instruction is wrapping up at Sky Oaks. In addition, staff completed eight hours of training so they can continue implementing the practices throughout the school — including the special education classrooms.

Vista View Elementary Principal Jeff Nepsund said in a release from the district that the practices work well with the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, which helps focus students who are acting out.

Around the schools, posters illustrate different series of movements aimed at regulating certain emotions and feelings, such as returning to the classroom after recess.

“When I’m teaching, I can look and go, ‘OK, we are really wiggly, now what do we need?’” Singleton said. “Their body is telling me that they need something and now, for the first time, I have the tools to try different things with them, and it’s been really fun.”

Chimes, picture cards and breathing exercise balls are kept in Singleton’s classroom — they are all part of the Move Mindfully curriculum. During breathing exercises, students help each other count their breaths in and out and give each other compliments when the exercise is done. Another favorite is passing around a clear ball filled with glitter and watching the glitter settle.

The curriculum, provided by a well-being training and consulting company called 1000 Petals, has been implemented in over 500 classrooms, according to the company’s website.

Singleton said that staff hopes that students will learn to rely on these practices outside the classroom, too. Above all, she said that she is most excited to see students learning how to take care of themselves and be aware of their own needs.

“You always want them to be empowered beyond you,” she said. “It’s cool to see that starting.”

See original article Savage Pacer

North Dakota Human Services

People working in family services, counseling, foster care, and education are learning mindfulness practices all week at a conference at the Ramkota Inn.

School social worker Kathy Flaminio is teaching these professionals how they can overcome trauma.

Flaminio used props to illustrate how to clear your mind and control your thoughts, like how the sparkles of a glitter ball mimic thoughts in our brain.

“What happens when we just stop and slow down? You can see the sparkles are settling. Mindfulness isn’t about getting rid of all of that, it’s learning how to notice it and not get all involved in it,” said Kathy Flaminio, Founder of 1000 Petals LLC.

Flaminio says her big message at this conference is you can’t choose the circumstances you’re put in, but you can choose how to respond to them.

By Cynthia McLaughlin
July 24, 2018

See Original Article West Dakota Fox

Kathy Flaminio Glitter Ball

Success in Juvenile Services Center

These practices allow youth to be more present to work on their treatment goals and avoid to behavioral problems.

Dakota County Juvenile Services Center (JSC) received financial support from Dakota County’s integrated mental health and family services collaborative, the Dakota County Collaborative, for programming in the JSC that helps youth manage their emotions. Dakota County Collaborative is committed to having a continuum of mental health services for youth countywide. The Collaborative governing board is especially interested in services that help youth across multiple environments, and want to support the transition of youth from the JSC back to their schools in the community.

Beginning in 2018, the JSC contracted with 1000 Petals to train staff at the JSC campus—secure facility, New Chance Day Treatment, and the facility school—on trauma-informed practices for use in the JSC School and programs. A review of mental health screenings of youth placed at the JSC suggested that up to 80% of the youth had experienced between one to five life threatening situations. Research has demonstrated the severe effects trauma imparts to our brains and bodies. Treatment of experiencing trauma includes “calming” the brain and body. 1000 Petals has trained educators, therapists, parents and adults working with youth on how to integrate mindfulness, movement and social/emotional learning activities into schools, hospitals, detention centers, and therapeutic settings. Some Dakota County schools have contracted with 1000 Petals and are using the same approaches in their settings as are being taught at the JSC.

dakota county juvenile services center

1000 Petals staff facilitates self-regulation groups twice per week at the JSC in the classrooms and program areas of the campus. In each session, youth lead and participate in mindfulness activities, breathing exercises and yoga-based movement for self-regulation, focus, de-escalation, community connection, and overall wellbeing. Youth learn about their brain and nervous system and how chronic stress impacts both mind and body. The youth have been respectful and engaged in these groups, even when trying the techniques for the first time. Staff also participate in groups and learn self-care strategies to help alleviate stress, improve sleep, and provide an opportunity to bring more calm to their work day. 1000 Petals’ goal is for JSC staff to incorporate these practices between sessions so that youth regularly use these self-regulation tools.

mindfulness in school

Youth have been surveyed before and after participation in these sessions. Nearly 150 surveys have been completed, with 84% of youth reporting feeling improved moods after the sessions. Youth overwhelmingly report feeling “more relaxed and calm” after these groups, and describe using these strategies to help “calm down, fall asleep, to relax when upset or overwhelmed, to focus and prepare to exercise.” These practices allow youth to be more present to work on their treatment goals and avoid to behavioral problems.

The Dakota County Collaborative not only provided funding for this work, but also made it possible for the service approach at the JSC to be more uniform with approaches used in the schools. This partnership is a good model for service delivery between systems, and has brought useful tools to both youth and staff at the JSC, at school, and in their own lives.

By Matt Bauer

June 26, 2018


Read more about Kathy’s story here.

Pratt Community School

A Minneapolis school is turning to Yoga Calm to help kids manage emotions

Pratt Community School third-grader Fahim Abdurhamn, beat on a drum as his class learned yoga techniques from Kathy Flaminio on Wednesday.

 

The task was daunting for the classroom of Minneapolis third-graders: maintaining their balance as they walked across a set of fitness blocks, eyes closed, with only the hands of their classmates as guides.

The practice demanded trust, mindfulness and, of course, the occasional exclamation.

“So scary!” one third-grader cried out while navigating the blocks at Pratt Community School, flanked by two peers for support.

“Are we at the end?” another asked.

This exercise is part of a yoga instruction called Yoga Calm, brought to all of Pratt’s third- to fifth-grade classrooms and to schools around the metro by St. Paul-based 1000 Petals. Pratt has seen an uptick in children dealing with stressful home situations, such as unstable housing, homelessness, family deaths and living in unsafe neighborhoods, said school Principal Nancy Vague. She said she hopes the calming strategies can help students better manage their emotions and behaviors.

Students around the metro have been morphing into young yogis for years, but educators now have a better sense of how practicing yoga can help kids manage stress from issues they face at home and at school, said Kathy Flaminio, founder and president of 1000 Petals.

The movements are purposeful. For example, a tree pose isn’t just a stance, but a way for kids to feel safe within their bodies, she explained.

“Our whole theme today was grounding — how to stay connected, what it means in your body, what to think about when kids are worrying about all these things,” Flaminio said after instructing a class at Pratt last week.

The company has taken its Yoga Calm techniques to schools in other states like Colorado and Illinois, but it’s also introduced the techniques to students in other Twin Cities schools, including ones in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, South Washington County and St. Paul. The benefits of the practice extend beyond alleviating anxiety. Yoga can also boost focus, self-esteem and academic performance, research shows.

“Just about understanding the positive impact on our kids, we’re excited about that,” Vague said.

Coping with stress

Yoga Calm isn’t Pratt’s first foray into mindfulness. For some time, Vague has used the meditation app “Headspace” with students who may need calm-down moments.

After securing an innovation grant from the Minneapolis Public Schools, Pratt welcomed 1000 Petals for a six-week moving and learning residency, which included a workshop for teachers. The school’s physical education teacher gets more instruction and can keep rolling out the skills even when the 1000 Petals sessions end.

Before the training, when kids didn’t know how to deal with challenges, Vague said, they would sometimes flee to a corner of the room or sometimes even out of the classroom.

Yet downward-facing dog and the warrior pose in schools haven’t come without complaints. Yoga’s roots are in Hinduism in India, and the movement drifted westward. School leaders, nervous about the ties between religion and the public schools, are mindfully staying away from yogic mantras and chants of “om.”

In 2013, parents of two students in California filed a lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District, saying that yoga is a religious exercise that public schools shouldn’t teach. Courts ruled that the district’s health and wellness program was not religious. The Yoga Calm exercises in classrooms around the Twin Cities will not have religious touches, Flaminio said.

On a recent morning, student Fahim Abdurhamn stood in the middle of the classroom and banged out a beat on a hand drum as the kids went through a cycle of poses, stretching out their bodies. Flaminio, who was teaching at Pratt, told the kids to push themselves up into the cobra pose with their chests sticking out — except she called it the “snake,” and the whole classroom hissed in unison.

The Pratt kids initially giggled noisily while twisting into yoga poses on mats, but later fell into a hush of relaxation when the hourlong exercise wound down. They lay together in a circle, feet inward. Calming music floated in the background.

And then the session was over, and kids were out the door to continue on with their day — perhaps with a new mind-set.

By Beena Raghavendran

February 5, 2018

See Original Article Star Tribune

Fargo, North Dakota

Yoga Calm has arrived in some Fargo classrooms

A challenge in any elementary classroom is “managing behavior.” But now a unique project is being introduced in schools right here in the metro.

Yoga Calm in Fargo

It’s called Yoga Calm.

Shortly before math or reading at Jefferson elementary in Fargo, fourth graders get their minds, bodies and heart, ready for a day of learning.

They practice Yoga Calm to get there.

Fargo School Counselor Laura Sokolofsky is one of several educators in our area, now trained in this program.

It serves as a way to get young kids to self-regulate by breathing, relaxing and being still.

“Little kids need this, they need to self-soothe and self -calm, when they are little they have pacifiers, snugglies, blankets and parents, when they are at at school all those things are gone. They have to learn what they can do to cope,” said Laura Sokolofsky, Jefferson Counselor.

Research is confirming what teachers are witnessing, calmer kids.

Often these are kids who come from tough situations at home, such as poverty, abuse and trauma.

“When your life is hard and you face so many challenges, it is cumulative it builds up in your body and stress and how you react that is hard and frustrating. We want a different reaction that won’t get you in trouble,” said Sokolofsky.

One group of kids was pulled out of recess for behavior issues, and entered into the Yoga Calm classroom.

“Once they were there, they did not want it to end because they saw the power of the group,” said Sokolofsky.

For students getting the chance to practice Yoga Calm, it is about results.

“Makes me calm and makes me focus more,” said Addy Johnson, Jefferson Student.

As part the exercise Thursday, the students picked a rock, put it in their hand and thought about something that had troubled them, they put the rock in their other hand, and held it out in front of them.

Using strength, the kids were told to not look back, but forward.

“Where you have been, you are today, and that will take you where you want to be,” said Sokolofsky, “When you are calm and relaxed you are focused and you are ready to learn.”

There is also an effort to bring the mindfulness and body control program to some classrooms in Moorhead.

Original Article Inform

Minnesota Parent- Ever Present

students forward fold at the carpet

“When I say focus, you say focus,” she says.

“Focus!” the group responds eagerly.

“I have citrus this week,” she tells students while holding a small brown spray bottle filled with an essential oil blend. As she walks around to each table, students hold out their hands if they would like a spritz, and fold them in their lap if not.

The juicy scent of ripe orange fills the room, and then it’s time to begin. Students take a deep breath, inhaling the sweet fragrance from their palms. Gervais rings a small hand chime. The sound resonates for a few moments while the students quiet.

Gervais — a social worker at the school — is leading a weekly 20-minute Yoga Calm sequence. The class starts with deep-breathing exercises. She slowly expands and contracts a Hoberman sphere breathing ball, which serves as a visual guide. A calm instantly blankets the class.

Next up is yoga. This week students are practicing while seated. They start in mountain pose, with feet grounded and hands at their sides. They breathe deep and raise their hands to the sky transitioning into extended mountain pose before exhaling into a forward fold. The kids slowly rise and then Gervais instructs them to place their hands at heart’s center.

“Think of someone you love. Send them healthy thoughts,” she says.

They go through this flow several times.

For the final minutes of the session, students double-stack their fists on the table and rest their heads on their hands in what’s called seated child’s pose. It’s time for a meditation reading, and today Gervais has selected a passage about mighty trees and feeling powerful on the inside and out.

Finally, the chime rings again and kids lift their heads. She congratulates them on completing the longest mediation session they’ve done yet. The kids grin enthusiastically as she tells them next week they get to try new poses — boat, cat and cow.

A school-wide program

Sessions like these happen regularly throughout the K–5 school. Gervais teaches 12 Yoga Calm classes a week to students, but many more occur when the teachers lead the sessions themselves. (More than half of Valley Crossing teachers are trained in Yoga Calm.)

These sessions are part of the school’s bigger focus on mindfulness and self-regulation. Gervais and her colleague, Tyra Raasch, have worked together to develop a school-wide program with a goal to empower students. Other core parts of the program include Social Thinking and Zones of Regulation. As part of the program, each teacher is encouraged to have a calm space in the classroom students can visit when they need to self-regulate through various activities such as deep breathing or silent counting.

“Students are taught that no emotion is bad, rather, how they can deal with that emotion appropriately,” Raasch said.

This speaks to the core of what it means to be mindful.

Sarah Rudell Beach, a former Twin-Cities-based schoolteacher and founder of the mindfulness training organization Brilliant Mindfulness of Minneapolis, shares her definition: “Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, with curiosity and kindness. When we are mindful, we are aware of what we’re doing as we do it, and what we’re thinking as we think it. We bring an attitude of kindness to our experience, so if we notice that we are sad or upset, we don’t try to push our feelings away or tell ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling that way; instead, we offer ourselves kindness during that tough moment,” Rudell Beach said.

Being mindful can be as simple as deliberately sitting down and paying attention to your breathing. When your attention drifts, you slowly bring it back to your breath.

“We can also be mindful throughout our day, simply noticing what’s happening, what we’re thinking, what we feel in our body or what emotions are present,” Rudell Beach said. “When we bring this kind of attention to our experience, we can eat, drive, do the dishes or play with our children mindfully.”

Modeling mindfulness

This type of calm focus on the present moment seems in stark contrast to the busyness that often plagues modern life. Digital devices, overwhelming extracurriculars and social demands have made many kids busier and more distracted than ever.

“I think we can say that, based on a cultural, perhaps global, tendency to simply keep adding more things — more technologies, more activities, more choices — many kids now lead lives that have very few gaps in them,” said Marc Anderson, founder of the St. Paul-based M2 Foundation, which offers mindfulness training in schools.

Of course, most adults’ lives aren’t any better.

“Adults model the behavior,” Anderson said. “We fill our lives with stuff, activities, jobs and leave the most important jobs of inner peace, well-being and community connection on the back burner. Kids get the message, and they follow our lead.”

In addition to parents being role models, teachers can have a big impact, too.

“A significant portion of my work is providing mindfulness training to teachers,” Rudell Beach said. “There’s now a growing body of research demonstrating that when teachers practice mindfulness, it has a positive impact on their students, even if the teachers don’t teach mindfulness to the kids. If teachers can manage their own stress, and be fully present with their students, it improves their relationships with students and, amazingly, can actually improve student behavior in the classroom.”

Reaping the benefits

Rudell Beach has conducted mindfulness training with teachers and students at numerous Minnesota schools, including in the Wayzata and the Anoka-Hennepin school districts.

“Students tell me that mindfulness helps them feel calm and relaxed, and that they use it to help them fall asleep at night, to calm down when their siblings anger them or to focus when they are worried about a test,” she said.

Research indicates that mindfulness activities help kids improve their concentration and focus, decrease stress and anxiety, increase self-awareness and impulse control, and calm them when they’re upset.

“In short, mindfulness can help them develop the executive functioning skills that all children and grownups need,” Rudell Beach said. “There’s also some indications that mindfulness can help improve sleep as well as children’s conflict-resolution skills.”

At school and at home

It was apparent that the Valley Crossing students in Gervais’ class had embraced the idea of mindfulness wholeheartedly. They all willingly participated and were remarkably focused.

But how have parents responded to the program?

“Parents love the attention we’re giving to mental health,” Raasch said. “We’re addressing it in a non-confrontational way. It helps support social and emotional development, both at school and at home.”

Raasch and Gervais have developed resources for parents so they can extend mindfulness and regulation activities into home life. They’re encouraged to use the same language and terminology that their kids are hearing at school to make it as easy to do at home as it is in class.

While mindfulness initiatives like these are available at some Twin Cities schools, it’s still a new concept at many. There are numerous barriers to implementing programs, including administration constraints, funding and lack of teacher buy-in.

Without everyone on board, a program like Valley Crossings’ would be impossible to implement, Gervais said.

Fortunately, mindfulness is something you can do at home, even if your child’s school doesn’t currently have a program. Rudell Beach recommends starting with kids who are 3 or older, noting kids younger than that are actually already inherently mindful.

“We could learn some lessons from them about being totally engrossed in the present moment and not letting past regrets and future worries trouble us,” she said. “Executive functioning skills develop throughout our life, but early childhood (ages 3–4) and early adolescence are the two critical periods when these skills develop rapidly, so kids at those ages can especially benefit from mindfulness.”

By Laura Malm

January 1, 2018

See Original Article minnesotaparent.com