Even on that cute little carpet where they do circle time, it’s hard for kindergartners to sit still.
That’s not the case at Creativity Challenge Community (C3) Elementary School, where the kindergartners in one class sit perfectly still, eyes closed as they listen to their own inner-feelings.
It’s part of the school’s mindfulness classes, which began last school year. Melissa Kaufmann created the program first at a nearby preschool before bringing it to C3.
“Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment. Aware of your senses and your emotions without any judgement,” Kaufmann said.
Kaufmann meets with classes every other week for about 15 minutes a session. That’s enough time for them to practice deep breathing and reflect on different topics. Just before Thanksgiving, the children were asked to contemplate on the subject of gratitude.
Kaufmann says learning mindfulness can help children in many ways, including controlling their emotions and empathizing with others. They are emotional skills that she says can help children as they grow into adults.
“If we can teach them young how to self-regulate their emotions, and give them these mindful tools. Then they’ll be able to pull for them throughout their entire life almost without thinking.”
Kaufmann says the children often share what they’ve learned in mindfulness classes with their parents, siblings… and even their pets. She gives the following lesson in practicing family mindfulness.
Family Mindfulness: 6 Steps for Belly Breathing by Melissa Kaufmann
Belly Breathing helps slow and deepen the breath, triggering calming changes in the body and mind.
1. Get into a comfortable position, sitting tall or lying down on your back.
2. Close your eyes and place your palms on your lower belly, resting them comfortably below your navel. Relax your abdomen.
3. Breathe in and out through your nose. As you take a deep breath send the air to your belly and feel your stomach rise as it fills with air on the inhale and then fall again as you breathe out. As you breathe in and out, allow the hands on your belly to gently rise up and down.
4. Belly breathe for anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes with slow and full breaths.
5. If your mind wanders, that’s okay, just re-focus your attention on your breath.
6. When you are done, slowly open your eyes but stay still and quiet.