Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An Introduction to the Breck Lower School Mindfulness Pilot Program


What do you think of when you hear the word mindfulness? What images come to you?  

Although the positive effects of mindfulness have been studied for more than 30 years, the term has come to the forefront recently and has many people talking... but why?  I have been a teacher/counselor for 25 years and have seen first-hand the effects our increasingly multi-tasked, scheduled, and technological society has had on our children both academically and socially. Although I support and see the great benefits that both new technology and extracurricular activities bring to students,  I also see there must be a balance. There must be a natural way for students to unplug, unwind and recharge. I floated between various research studies and ideas about this issue before delving into the study of mindfulness. What interested me the most was the research that reflected the direct link between teaching mindfulness strategies to students and an increase in their ability to focus and maintain self-control. Mindfulness has been defined educationally as: "Training the brain to have focused attention and increased emotional regulation."  The more I read, the more excited I became!

After a year of research I felt it was time for action. As all educators know, if you are going to effectively teach something, you first need to have a deep understanding of the subject on a personal level. To that end, I enrolled in a 6-week interactive online course through MindfulSchools.org to learn "Mindfulness Fundamentals." In June, 2015, I participated in an in-depth mindfulness retreat in Santa Rosa, CA. The 7-day silent retreat was called, Bringing Mindfulness & Compassion to Our Work as Therapists, Educators and Healthcare Professionals. That experience changed my life both personally and professionally. When I returned home, I enrolled in another 6-week course through MindfulSchools.org called, "Mindfulness Curriculum." 

I was eager to return to Breck School in the fall to share the benefits of Mindful Education with our faculty.  Their response was inspiring! As a result, we have elected to launch a mindfulness pilot program with all students, grades PreK - 4. In each classroom, I partner with teachers to introduce the focus lesson once every six-day cycle. The teachers then reinforce and practice mindfulness throughout the five remaining days. Ask your child when mindfulness is most helpful to him/her. :-)  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email, lisa.heurung@breckschool.org, or call me at, 763-381-8377. If you would like to have more information, you are also welcome to attend our Lower School Parent Association Meeting on Wednesday, November 11 at 8:45. 

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