The Forest North Elementary School culture centers on providing students opportunities in which to grow and cultivate social and emotional learning. To further that culture, school administrators, and teachers are trained in the practice of mindfulness meditation and recognize it as a 21st-century life skill.
“Experts credit mindfulness as a tool to better manage emotional overload. For students, it’s proven to decrease depression, anxiety, and stress while increasing overall feelings of well-being, happiness, focus, attention and academic achievement,” said Forest North Principal Amy Jacobs. “There is so much research to support this; it’s a disservice to our kids not to do it.”
Jacobs sought out local experts in the mindfulness industry. Austin-based The Meditation Bar provides training to the Forest North teachers, guiding them through meditation exercises, offering resources and tools to use in the classroom.
Forest North Teachers from Pre-K through Fifth grade use mindfulness techniques in their classrooms to help their students achieve heightened focus and avoid losing valuable instructional time. On the playground and in the noisy lunchroom students can communicate more effectively, resolving or avoiding conflict by responding rather than reacting.
“Mindfulness is the foundation for all other learning,” said Joene Risson, The Meditation Bar co-founder. “When teachers engage students with mindfulness, instructional time increases the student’s ability to focus actively.”
A former educator, Risson is also an early childhood consultant for the State of Texas.
University studies have reported results that childhood emotional control is a predictor for future physical health, personal wealth, and public safety; that self-control is more important than intelligence and social class; citing it as the single most important predictor of success for human beings.
The application and contribution of mindfulness to develop student social and emotional learning aligns with Goals 1, 3 and 4 and 5 of the District’s Strategic Plan.
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