New mindfulness pilot program helping elementary students with focus and stress
An eight-week mindfulness pilot program has been implemented in four of the district's elementary schools this spring. The curriculum includes meditation and breathing exercises, yoga, and gratitude practices.
The program in voluntary in its first year, with four elementary schools currently participating: Blanche Sprentz, Gold Ridge, Natoma Station and Theodore Judah. These schools and many of their teachers volunteered to teach the mindfulness curriculum in their classes.
The mindfulness curriculum was adapted to fit the needs of elementary students by school social worker Emilia Tyminski, who works at Blanche Sprentz and Theodore Judah. Tyminski took a middle school mindfulness curriculum that was previously used at Folsom Middle, developed by FCUSD Mental Health Specialist Dawn Greene, and revised it to work better for elementary school-aged children. Each week the students learn a new mindfulness lesson on Mindful Monday and then practice that lesson throughout the week, both at school and at home.
When practiced regularly, Tyminski said, mindfulness can help improve the focus of students, calm their minds and bodies, as well as decrease stress. She said it is a great tool for teachers to use to not only to support students in developing mindfulness skills, but it is a great classroom management tool for teachers to create a calm and relaxing space for students when they come back in from recess or lunch.
"The preliminary feedback I've received so far is that a lot of the kids are really enjoying it, that the kids are really craving that time of focusing on their breath and movement and having that quiet time," Tyminski said.