"Every movement has its breakthrough moment when it no longer has to defend its message. Mindfulness awareness training for children has arrived at that moment. By joining a more reflective and introspective way of being with the insights from modern psychology and neuroscience, we can define how we teach our children." - From The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland
Each year, more and more, children and teenagers find themselves under extreme levels of constant stimulation, pressures, and toxic stress. We see digital interference and stimulations, long days, over scheduled afternoons, constant screen time, high-stake testings, and very little coping strategies to deal with it all the demands. High levels of stress, disassociation, lack of focus, lack of self regulation, lack of emotional control, along with increased levels of anxiety, hyperactivity, fear, and lack of adequate sleep are some of the most frequent issues that we are encountering these days in our children's lives. When a group of children come together in a classroom setting carrying this mixture of mental, physical and emotional imbalance we have the perfect recipe for highly dysregulated classrooms and environments. One where learning, growing and developing, in any capacity, gets increasingly more challenging, if at all possible. Our children are simply not equipped enough to handle all that life is bringing upon them, and demanding of them. Regardless of the school's available resources, location, background, financial status, parental support, teacher's backgrounds and trainings these issues are present in just about every educational setting. They don't look alike, or come forth equally in every school setting, but to some capacity they are present. Our children are coming to school with an absolute need for extra guidance, support and skills to not only cope with life, but thrive in their lives. There simply isn't enough basic life skills being taught and offered to our children that can balance or offset the amount of stimulus that they are receiving in their daily lives. Children deserve and need to receive not only academic skills, but also be seen whole and be supported mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially.
Teachers are under a lot of pressure themselves. They are tired, overworked, undercompensated. Most teachers entered this profession to truly connect, inspire, guide and aid children in the love of learning, growing, and contributing positively to some capacity to the child's formation and development into their adult lives. Toxic stressors affect our teachers, too. From lack of resources to time constraints, constant demands from parents and administrators, extreme pressures to deliver a curriculum, and a constant increase in disregulated classrooms they grow increasingly frustrated, anxious, discouraged, dissassotiated and ultimately burned out. The numbers of teacher who leave their profession each year in the United States is astonishing and alarming in its own right. The statistics alone should be an indicator that something has to change.
What How and Why Mindfulness in Education
Mindful Educators look at this reality and advocate for something better. Our teachers need support and guidance. They need time to breath, grow, evolve and center themselves to put forth their very best for our students. Our children need support, guidance, attention, values, guidance, inspiration. Parents need support and guidance, too. First and foremost we must be aware that the adult's internal state is the determining factor here. Children and adolescents are in developmental stages. They don't acquire basic life skills nor develop them on their own. Children are depending on us, the adults in their lives, to be present, centered, engaged, committed, aware and above all willing to connect, teach and grow with them. Integrating Mindfulness Practice in schools brings these much needed qualities back into the classroom. In developing the teacher's and students' ability and habit of intentional attention we bring back one's ability to make decisions, self regulate, choose what to focus on, and orient emotions. These are basic life skills that are essential in today's incredibly demanding, over scheduled, distracting and multi-tasking world.
I come to your school and invest time assessing the present situation. I seek to understand what is needed, desired, possible while working with your institution to implement a Mindfulness Program that meets your needs, and the time constraints for each grade, and class. The structure of the program and its implementation is truly based on what I can do to support your teachers and/or students in any capacity. The curriculum is flexible and adaptable. Together, we will find a way, a window, and an opportunity to support your school in a non imposing, gentle, purposeful and secular way. Introducing, practicing and discussing mindfulness in a school does not and should not feel an imposition. It should and it must be integrated in an authentic, inspiring, simple, meaningful and purposeful way for all- teachers and students alike.