A brief glimpse into this most useful of social-emotional learning curriculums ...
When I was looking for a mindfulness curriculum to trial at my son's kindergarten in 2012, I did alot of reserach and finally found just what I was looking for:
something based in science
with research behind it
that taught kids how their brains worked
how to use their breath to calm
and was fun and interactive.
The MindUP™ Programme
Since 2003, MindUP™ - the signature program of The Goldie Hawn Foundation - has been helping children develop the mental fitness necessary to thrive in school, work and life. The Goldie Hawn Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created in response to the global epidemic of childhood aggression, anxiety, depression and suicide.
MindUP™ is an acclaimed classroom-based curriculum, spanning ages 3 to 14.
In collaboration with neuroscientists, behavioural psychologists, educators, and leading researchers in the field of social and emotional learning, MindUP™ was developed for use in educational settings for three different age groups: 3-6 years, 7-10 years and 11-14 years.
Published by Scholastic, this 15-lesson series is based on four pillars:
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Positive Psychology and
These lessons work together to build awareness and self-regulation that increase a child’s academic performance, self-control, empathy, and optimism. Each lesson offers easy strategies for helping students focus their attention, improve their self-regulation skills, build resilience to stress, and develop a positive mind-set in both school and life. The lessons fit easily into any schedule and require minimal preparation. Classroom management tips and content-area activities help to extend the benefits of MindUP™ throughout the day, week, and year.
Based firmly in neuroscience, MindUP ™gives children the knowledge and tools they need to manage stress, regulate emotions and face the challenges of the 21st century with resilience.
To date, MindUP™ has trained over 150,000 teachers in 12 countries and impacted over 6 million children.
“I created MindUP™ because I was compelled to help all children learn the tools and knowledge they need to thrive, live compassionately, and be happy. We want every teacher in every school to be trained in MindUP™, and we want every home to experience the peace and joy that MindUP™ brings.” - Golide Hawn, Founder of MindUP™ *
Childhood Matters NZ and MindUP™
Depending on the setting I am working in I tailor the MindUP™ curriculum to suit the age and stage of the kids - and the expectations of the educators. This is always a conversation that takes place before any work begins.
An example of my work in an ECE setting is:
delivery of ten sessions covering the essentials of the MindUP curriculum
carried out at mat time
lasting between 20-30 minutes (depending on the children’s ability and engagement)
and involving a mixture of experiential and teaching activities.
Committing to ten sessions means that the children (and the teachers) get a reasonable amount of information about, and practice of, incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives which, hopefully, means this will be more sustainable going forward. However, it is also possible to do a shorter number of sessions if this suits the setting better.
The content and concepts are the stickiest - i.e. they make their way more fully into the children's lives, not just as something they do at kindergarten/school - if the teacher(s) reinforce the key concepts and language regularly.
Over ten sessions the children learn about:
Deep Belly Breathing
How Our Brains Work
Being Mindful and Unmindful
The rhythm of these sessions are the same week after week: we start by recapping what we have learnt, stir the vase and practice our breathing, learn something new and play a quick, related game (or two) - then finish with a relevant picture book and one more deep belly breathing practice.
Several kindergartens I work with have chosen to replicate some of the resources I use (the vase full of water and beads, the special bell and some specific books) with great effect.
All of the educational settings I have worked with have found it useful to have my sessions at a time when there are not a lot of disruptions (i.e. not near to pick up or drop off time) and, depending on the age and stage of the children, at a time when they are not likely to be hungry and when they have had a chance to run off some steam!
It has also been proven useful for several kindergartens I work with to have a designated 'quiet time' once a day. This is as simple (and as tricky!) as asking the children to sit - maybe with eyes closed and head bowed to help reduce distraction - for 10, then 20, then 30, etc seconds. Often this works best just before or just after a transition from one activity to another (i.e. after coming in from playtime and before having to concentrate on a task).
The amount of 'quiet time' can be increased slowly up to a minute or two depending on what works for the teacher(s) and the children. Having seen this in action I think it is a great way for children to begin to find their own 'Still Quiet Place' and be a little more ready for the work I do. However, this is entirely optional and not a requirement by any means.
If you would like to know more about my Mindfulness for Kids work, please get in touch:
* excerpts from the MindUP™ website: mindup.org