Cultivating Mindfulness in Schools
Local nonprofit Mindfulness First is creating the first mindful school in Arizona.
A recent trend within education promotes the idea that children should be provided with more than formal academic skills when they attend school. Education should also consider improving the well-being of children by encouraging social and emotional skills to deal with life’s challenges. Mindfulness has shown to be an effective tool that promotes positive social and emotional development among school-aged children and its practice helps to develop a greater sense of awareness that improves emotional regulation, concentration and greater empathy toward others. These effects have been verified through numerous studies, including a recent project conducted in 2014 through the University of California, Los Angeles and published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.
Not only is mindfulness beneficial for students, but also studies published in the School Psychology Quarterly and the Journal of Classroom Interaction indicate that educators participating in a mindfulness program experience improvements in their ability to give more appropriate support to students, as well as sense a greater ability to manage their classrooms and have more supportive relationships with pupils. Educators also report an increase in forgiveness of self and others, a sense of personal growth, and reduction in stress and anxiety after regularly practicing mindfulness.
Nonprofit Mindfulness First has a mission to educate and empower children, adults and professionals in mindfulness-based life skills that decrease instances of bullying, isolation and stress. During the 2015-2016 academic school year, they are creating the first mindful school in Arizona at David Crockett Elementary School, in Phoenix, by providing mindfulness lessons to every student, teacher and employee on campus.
This mindfulness project represents an important shift in education to start prioritizing the well-being of students. Bullying, stress and mental health issues are all barriers to learning that cannot be ignored. By teaching students a greater sense of awareness about their inner world, including emotions, thoughts and senses, they are better able to connect with and respond to the world around them. This understanding not only benefits students’ educational experiences, but also gives them a tool they can continue to use throughout their lives.
Stephanie Cordel, research director for Mindfulness First, is the founder of Growing Mindfully, an organization focused on providing mindfulness education to children and their families. For more information, email Stephanie@GrowingMindfully.com or visit GrowingMindfully.com and MindfulnessFirst.org.