A second-grade teacher fills a large jar with water, then swirls glitter inside, creating a visual image of what our emotions might look like when they are dysregulated and chaotic. As the sparkles settle on the bottom, she points out that this is an image of what happens when we calm our feelings. At snack time, a preschool teacher asks children to eat slowly, to take time chewing, and really taste the food, noticing the colors, textures, and smell.
These are just a couple of the many ways White Pony and Meher School teachers help students of different ages learn about mindfulness – the process of becoming aware of what’s going on internally and in the external world.
The evidence suggests that developing the ability to tune in to the present moment increases focus, self-regulation, and happiness. It is especially timely right now in this period of full of unexpected and challenging situations (“Oh no, not another change!”), and luckily the world abounds with resources that provide families with delightful ways to engage in doing this learning together.
The best way to learn about mindfulness is through practice, so we can remind each other that all we have is this present moment. Some mindfulness resources:
MindUp: Books and digital experiences
Actor Goldie Hawn has developed a program that teaches children from a young age about the parts of their brain and how to self-regulate. In 2003 she founded MindUp, a research-based program to help children learn about the “plasticity” of their brains and understand and manage their feelings. There are MindUp curriculum books for different ages, and the program has just gone digital, with free online offerings.
Sticky Brains: A book for children and adults
Sticky Brains, by Nicole Lubin, teaches children about the brain’s negative bias, which causes negative experiences to stick in our minds. The main character, Aria, learns that she has brain-changing powers (as does the reader) – she can make good thoughts stick by paying attention to them in a new way.
Cosmic Kids: A YouTube series on yoga and mindfulness. Actor and yoga teacher Jamie Amor invites children into her Zen Den for yoga exercises and captivating stories. Tune in to the Cosmic Kids Yoga channel.
Growing Mindful cards: Cards for teaching mindfulness
Suitable for all ages, this 58-card deck by Mitch Abblett and Chris Willard includes activities to teach awareness, being present in the moment, and cultivating kindness and curiosity.