Why Mindfulness Matters in Education

Glen Urquhart School in Beverly MA

Research has proven that practicing mindfulness-based meditation and yoga in the classroom improves students’ focused attention and self-awareness, which contribute to academic success. Mindfulness-based practices also offer measurable health benefits and can reduce anxiety and depression. These valuable activities have become part of the daily routine in the second grade at Glen Urquhart School. Every day, after morning meeting, second graders move through yoga sequences, usually led by one of the students. They end each day with a three to seven minute guided meditation, also often student led.

According to second grade teacher Elliott Buck, “Mindfulness-based meditation directly supports and enhances the school’s Open Circle social/emotional curriculum. The practice helps with problem-solving, self-monitoring, and compassion. It gives children a sense of belonging and a healthy routine. We are teaching our students lifelong skills and habits for coping and, ultimately, for succeeding in life.” Buck believes that practicing mindfulness on a daily basis has really brought the class together and encouraged the kids to trust and support one another. She adds, “Students become more comfortable taking academic risks and selfmonitoring their behavior. It raises self-esteem, and it’s fun!”

Each second grader wrote their own guided meditation script. They collaborated, tested them out on each other, and led the entire school in a guided meditation at a recent all-school assembly. They also shared their guided meditations with the seventh graders in their life skills class. Buck points out that meditation can be particularly helpful to upper school students, who are learning to manage stress around social challenges, anxiety, testing, and exams.

In upper school, GUS faculty are intentionally discussing and incorporating mindfulness techniques and practices in the classroom, particularly in life skills and in x-blocks, but also as a way to start classes or to prepare for an assessment. Director of Upper School Gretchen Forsyth comments, “We want to make sure that we provide kids with healthy, alternative ways to reduce stress so that they can thrive both inside and outside of school.”
“Extensive research has proven that mindfulness training integrates the brain and strengthens the important executive functions that support emotional and social intelligence as well as academic success,” explains leading neurobiologist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., clinical professor and author of The Mindful Brain.

When they meditate, the second graders either lie down or sit on a block. They are asked to visualize a setting, such as a beach, and then go there in their mind. Each student has a “peace rock,” which they use in their mindfulness practices. They also gave a peace rock to each of the seventh graders, along with strategies for how to use the rocks.

Listen here: http://vocaroo.com/i/s1u9EesSAuPQ

“This is all student-driven,” comments Buck. “Meditating is learning how your mind and body work. The practice improves relationships and increases focus and understanding. And the
kids are really excited about it.” She gave each of her students a small LED candle to use at home. Parents share with the teachers how their children are practicing mindfulness and how much it calms them at the end of busy and sometimes stressful days.

Mindfulness starts in kindergarten and first grade at GUS with breathing techniques. First grade teacher Marnie Potish attended a mindfulness workshop at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, this past summer. The workshop was led by Daniel Rechtschaffen, founding director of Mindful Education, a mindfulness and social/emotional learning platform for educators and family therapists. The idea behind the workshop was that adults who practice mindfulness can share the techniques and transform the experience of children. Rechtschaffen identifies the following learning objectives that can be improved through mindfulness:
1. Executive functioning
2. Emotional self-regulation
3. Metacognition
4. Focused attention
5. Empathy
6. Stress reduction
7. Self-compassion

The teachers explain to the second graders that there are no right or wrong ways to meditate and that it’s okay if they don’t want to participate, but students are usually eager to join in. “Even the most restless child can learn to do this,” confirms Buck. “We do body scans of how the kids feel when they’re stressed and talk about the techniques they can use to slow down and be more aware of what’s going on around them.” Buck adds, “They are learning to calm different kinds of emotions and to develop healthy habits.” Other ways they are practicing mindfulness are mindful eating and guided walking meditation on Glen Urquhart’s nature trails.

“Our walks help kids who are impulsive and might have trouble sitting still.” She and Maggie Clark and other teachers who work with the second graders see the results, noting that the students are more connected, focused, calm, and happy.

MarketStreet Lynnfield Outdoor Ice Skating

Outdoor Ice Skating Fun at MarketStreet Lynnfield
Lace up your skates and enjoy the beauty of the New England outdoors this winter season! From mid-November 2017 through February 2018, one of the most popular ice skating experiences in New England can be found at MarketStreet Lynnfield. The MarketStreet Rink offers public skating 7 days a week...

Public Skate and Learn to Skate at Peabody Skating Rink

Learn to Skate with the Peabody Skating Club at Peabody Skating Rink
The McVann-O'Keefe Skating Rink in Peabody is open for Public Skating weekdays from 10-11:45 am, Saturday's at 2 pm, and Sundays at 2:10 pm. Call today to ask about the Learn to Skate program at with the Peabody Skating Club. The ice is perfect. The Halloween and Christmas parties are a blast, and...
10:00 am to 11:45 am

Kindness Rocks Garden at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Kindness Rocks Garden Art Exhibit at MarketStreet Lynnfield
MarketStreet Lynnfield welcomes the return of the Kindness Rocks Garden, an installation of painted rocks with inspirational messages that is meant to encourage random acts of kindness and spread positivity. Participants are invited to leave their own painted rocks, as well as take any that inspire...
10:00 am to 9:00 pm

XYZT: A Journey in 4 Dimensions at PEM - Salem

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA. Family friendly arts and culture North of Boston
Journey through nature and activate the senses as you explore mathematical paradoxes, typographical illusions and metaphors in motion in our new digital exhibition, XYZT: A Journey in 4 Dimensions, opening Saturday, October 14, 2017.
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

AJH: Mother & Baby Support Class - Newburyport

Mother & Baby Support Groups at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport MA
Mother & Baby Groups Anna Jaques is pleased to offer free group classes for all mothers in our community to provide support, encouragement and advice on parenthood and answer questions that arise after going home. Mother & Baby Groups are facilitated by a Lactation Consultant/Registered...
10:00 am to 11:45 am

MFA: Mark Rothko: Reflection

Museum of Fine Art Mark Rothko Exhibit
An immersive display of 11 masterpieces by Mark Rothko (1903–70), on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., invites visitors to contemplate the power of art to shape human experience. Opening on September 24, don’t miss “Mark Rothko: Reflection,” an immersive display of 11...
10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Dog Friendly Shops at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Dog Friendly Shops and Restaurants at MarketStreet Lynnfield
Animal lovers will be glad to learn MarketStreet Lynnfield has over 40 shops and restaurants that are dog-friendly. Use #PupsOfMarketStreet on social media when you are there with your four-legged friend to get a free treat at PolkaDog Bakery. Enjoy!
10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Arts and Crafts for Little Ones with Colleen Apostolos-Marsh

Art Classes for children with Colleen Apostolos-Marsh
Certified Montessori teacher, artist and local mother, Colleen Apostolos-Marsh will guide your young artist in an exploration of color, shape, and texture. Using a variety of media, your child will be free to express their in a beautiful space while socializing and engaging in cooperative play.
10:15 am to 11:15 am

Harbor Sweets Factory Tours

Harbor Sweets in Salem Massachusetts offers tours of their candy factory twice a week!
Harbor Sweets offers complimentary tours of the chocolate production area and shop. Tours are held at 11:00 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. See how these candies are made and take some home to enjoy with your family!
11:00 am to 12:00 pm

Wednesday, November 22

MarketStreet Lynnfield Outdoor Ice Skating

Outdoor Ice Skating Fun at MarketStreet Lynnfield
Lace up your skates and enjoy the beauty of the New England outdoors this winter season! From mid-November 2017 through February 2018, one of the most popular ice skating experiences in New England can be found at MarketStreet Lynnfield. The MarketStreet Rink offers public skating 7 days a week...

Dog Friendly Shops at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Dog Friendly Shops and Restaurants at MarketStreet Lynnfield
Animal lovers will be glad to learn MarketStreet Lynnfield has over 40 shops and restaurants that are dog-friendly. Use #PupsOfMarketStreet on social media when you are there with your four-legged friend to get a free treat at PolkaDog Bakery. Enjoy!
10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Kindness Rocks Garden at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Kindness Rocks Garden Art Exhibit at MarketStreet Lynnfield
MarketStreet Lynnfield welcomes the return of the Kindness Rocks Garden, an installation of painted rocks with inspirational messages that is meant to encourage random acts of kindness and spread positivity. Participants are invited to leave their own painted rocks, as well as take any that inspire...
10:00 am to 9:00 pm

MFA: Mark Rothko: Reflection

Museum of Fine Art Mark Rothko Exhibit
An immersive display of 11 masterpieces by Mark Rothko (1903–70), on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., invites visitors to contemplate the power of art to shape human experience. Opening on September 24, don’t miss “Mark Rothko: Reflection,” an immersive display of 11...
10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Public Skate and Learn to Skate at Peabody Skating Rink

Learn to Skate with the Peabody Skating Club at Peabody Skating Rink
The McVann-O'Keefe Skating Rink in Peabody is open for Public Skating weekdays from 10-11:45 am, Saturday's at 2 pm, and Sundays at 2:10 pm. Call today to ask about the Learn to Skate program at with the Peabody Skating Club. The ice is perfect. The Halloween and Christmas parties are a blast, and...
10:00 am to 11:45 am

XYZT: A Journey in 4 Dimensions at PEM - Salem

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA. Family friendly arts and culture North of Boston
Journey through nature and activate the senses as you explore mathematical paradoxes, typographical illusions and metaphors in motion in our new digital exhibition, XYZT: A Journey in 4 Dimensions, opening Saturday, October 14, 2017.
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Arts and Crafts for Little Ones with Colleen Apostolos-Marsh

Art Classes for children with Colleen Apostolos-Marsh
Certified Montessori teacher, artist and local mother, Colleen Apostolos-Marsh will guide your young artist in an exploration of color, shape, and texture. Using a variety of media, your child will be free to express their in a beautiful space while socializing and engaging in cooperative play.
10:15 am to 11:15 am

PEM Pals

PEM has a story time in the museum just for kids under 5! Salem, Massachusetts
Heather Tharpe, also known as the Toddler Whisperer, leads the weekly interactive programs at Peabody Essex Museum PEM Pals with songs, movement, music, art, books and hands-on activities is designed specifically for preschool
10:30 am to 11:30 am

AJH: Mother & Baby Newborns: 0-3 Months

Mother and Baby, Newborn Support Groups aAnna Jaques Hospital
MOTHER & BABY GROUPS Anna Jaques is pleased to offer free group classes for all mothers in our community to provide support, encouragement and advice on parenthood and questions that arise after going home. Formerly named Lactation Support Groups, the Mother & Baby Group is facilitated by a...
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Stargazing at Mendel Observatory

Come to Mendel Observatory for stargazing sessions every Wednesday night.
The Observatory, with the support of volunteers from the North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club, hosts public stargazing every Wednesday night (weather permitting) starting at dusk or 7 p.m., whichever is later.  When special astronomical events of interest occur (total lunar eclipses, etc.) the Obse
7:00 pm