by Dawna Phillips, Mindful Schools Certified Instructor, Teacher’s Assistant
Mindfulness is simply paying attention to what is happening in the present moment – our thoughts, emotions and sensations – without judgment and with compassion. When given the time, space, and tools to explore their experiences with care, children can attend to and reveal a meaningful self-understanding and wisdom.
This is the first year at Riverbend that a class has had a mindfulness instructor with them on a daily basis. As a Mindful Schools Certified Instructor and Teacher’s Assistant to Mr. Cohen’s Lower Elementary Class, I was with the students every day for four hours. This is the second time that a small subset of these students received the formal Mindful Schools curriculum. Most of the third-year students first received it as first-year students in 2014 and most of the first-year students received it as kindergarten students last year.
Mindfulness in Mr. Cohen’s class this year was imparted in three ways. 1) Formal lessons were expanded to occur weekly for 30 minutes throughout the school year, instead of twice weekly for eight weeks. To read more about how the eight week Mindful Schools curriculum has typically been taught at Riverbend in the last six years, please read this blog piece – Mindfulness at Riverbend School. 2) Informal, individual or small group lessons were offered in real-time on an as-needed basis during the school day. 3) A mindfulness corner was created after the students had received a majority of the formal lessons and were familiar with the tools. The students were empowered to use this area individually and as needed for approximately five minutes at a time to rest, find calmness in the body and mind, and refocus attention for classroom work.
A few weeks ago I asked the students to begin reflecting through simple drawings and words on their year of mindfulness lessons and practice. In the photos below you will find the reflections of all sixteen students in Mr. Cohen’s class. I found these reflections to be stunning, beautiful and wise, and with the students’ consent, I’m offering them here for you to enjoy. It has given me great joy to be with and learn from these children this year. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity and this work, and am looking forward to sharing more mindfulness tools with the Riverbend community next school year.
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