My name is Cindy Kaump. As an 8th grade English teacher, I constantly see students who feel stressed, worried, or unfocused. In January, members of MC4ME came to my district to help us bring mindfulness into the classroom. It was like two parts of my life were coming together, since I’ve been an educator for nine years, and practiced yoga for just as long. One of my favorite benefits of yoga has been the practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps me not worry about things I can’t control, in my past, or in the future. I find my focus is better, and I’m a better listener because of my practice, so of course I thought I should teach mindfulness to my students!
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. April 2018, published online.
This randomized wait-list control study examined the impact of the Learn to Breathe mindfulness training curriculum on mental health and emotional outcomes in a sample of 145 Asian and Latino ninth-grade students attending an an urban school district serving primarily low income families. Pre-post assessments included self-reports on standardized instruments measuring stress, youth behavior problems, and emotional regulation and coping strategies at three time points, pre-intervention, post intervention and 3 months follow-up. Findings showed significant immediate improvements due to this curriculum on internalizing problems, perceived stress and rumination as well as strategies related to cognitive reappraisal, emotional processing and expression. Furthermore, youth showed improvement on all measures with comparison across time, though smallest effect sizes occurred for attention problems. Meditational analyses that were conducted suggested that improvements in youth’s internalizing problems and stress occurred due to the reduction in expressive suppression and rumination. Mindfulness training appears to facilitate youth’s capacity to engage in healthier patterns of relating to one's’ emotions and experience, and hence, greater emotional regulation and well-being. This study is important in that it is one of the few empirical studies to identify specific factors through which mindfulness training affects emotional well-being in youth.
Daniel guided 40 of us over the day and half workshop in nourishing our own personal practice and learning a variety of playful mindful and compassionate teaching activities to use in the classroom. Participants greatly appreciated the wisdom Daniel brought to bear on sensitive questions as well as the rich discussions we had related to trauma, racial bias and inequity. Following the training, we discovered that Michigan will be represented in the inaugural year long training program that Daniel and other mindfulness faculty are launching to develop transformational school leadership. We are aware that at least two participants from this workshop were accepted into the program!
Yoga Calm for Children, by Lynea and James Gillen, is a wonderful resource for anyone concerned about fostering the emotional and physical well-being and academic learning in children and youth. This book describes a unique educational program that combines the practice of physical yoga and social-emotional skill-building. It includes more than 60 specially designed classroom and therapeutic activities: yoga-based movement, breath work, relaxation, and social-emotional learning and storytelling activities. Each activity is clearly explained and, in the case of yoga practices, accompanied by pictures. In addition, the book specifies different ways the activities can be combined into five-to-forty minute lesson plans for a range of ages, abilities and populations. Personal stories drawn from Lynea's thirty years of classroom teaching, counseling and implementing this program add to the richness and the usefulness of this material.