Youth

I am trained in Mindful Schools Educator Essentials:

Mindfulness in the Des Moines, Iowa metro for grades K-12.

Curriculum is typically 8 weeks in length as each class builds off the previous lesson. There is flexibility in how long the course is, however. Classes are short, simple, and easy for children to understand, digest, and incorporate into their daily life.

Key Objectives For Youth:

• Ability to stabilize attention

• Ability to self-regulate emotions in real time

• Ability to attune to self and others – Empathy/Compassion

Mindfulness is a nervous system technology that teaches us how to pay attention. It’s about learning how our biology reacts under stress and freezing responses when we’re in conflict, angry, sad, or afraid for instance. Reactions are not solely driven by thought, but runs much deeper into our biology.

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From a biological perspective: When our body goes into automatic fight or flight mode, our mind gets hijacked and we don’t have access to the material we learn in school about decision making, conflict resolution, etc. Mindfulness complements Social-Emotional Learning material to be more actionable and accessible by teaching skills to work with stressful or difficult situations.

Contact me for information on how I can help your school.

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Visit this page for videos showing how this is taught in an actual classroom.

Megan Cowan, Co-Founder and Director of the non-profit organization, Mindful Schools:  “Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion” conference on March 8, 2013. Co-hosted by the The Greater Good Science Center:

Why is Mindfulness needed in Education?
There is a certain amount of stress that is natural to life.  Just like brushing a hand lightly against small tomato plant helps them grow stronger and more hearty roots, however, constant wind and pouring rain creates destruction.  The same goes with us and stress. Chronic stress elevates our baseline and inhibits our abilities to be present for our lives. It impairs mood regulation and sleep to learn fully, retain information, and engage in important daily tasks. It takes over our innate ability to cope with everyday activities. Chronic, toxic stress affects long term mental and physical health.

Our nervous system’s response to stress (aka “fight, flight or flee” reaction) is an ancient tool our bodies have relied on for our species’ survival. However, if stress is not handled correctly, our bodies react the same way whether it’s anxiety over a test or immediate physical danger. Because this is such a biologically ingrained response, the intervention has to go deeper than just conceptualizing.  We need to continually practice these skills so they become habitual.

“As children become more aware of of how their brain actually works, it opens the door to being able to shape their response and regain control of their bodies and emotions. Mindfulness is a way to teach kids how to first recognize, then properly handle, their emotions.”

“The idea that we all need as a country is a strict focus on standardized tests is folly. Social and emotional learning combined with mindfulness gets us underneath the causes of poor performance and bad behavior. It goes to the heart of the problem and transforms young minds. We need to stop pretending that emotional states like these have no effect on learning. We know different now. We have the tools to address these problems in our schools. What are we waiting for?”

– Congressman, Tim Ryan – “A Mindful Nation”

What are the benefits?
Concrete, scientific evidence is pointing to profound health benefits:

Attention: Just like physical fitness, Mindfulness strengthens our “mental muscle” to bring increased focus
Compassion: Awareness of our own emotions makes us empathize about what others are experiencing
Regulates Emotions: Observing and feeling physical sensations that our emotions case changes how we relate to them
Resilience: Being an objective observer of our emotions, thoughts and feelings reduces the amount of mental chatter and makes room to respond to stressors rather than knee jerk reacting.

Mindfulness not only benefits school-aged children, but teachers as well.

“If teachers can notice the emotion within their body, they can stop and make choices. Instead of seeing children with challenging behavior as problems, they can experience them as suffering human beings who need compassion. Over time, that will change how they lead their classrooms.”

– Patricia Jennings, Director of Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE)