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Incorporating Mindfulness into Early Education

WRTKidsDaily life is busy and who couldn’t use a minute to pause and take a breath? Like the old adage, we should stop and smell the roses, at Westchester Reform Temple’s Early Childhood Center, we are teaching kids to do just that. By practicing Mindfulness, they are stopping to smell the metaphoric roses.

Teachers at Westchester Reform Temple’s Early Childhood Center are trained in teaching the practice of Mindfulness, to pay attention to life here and now with kindness and curiosity. “Our goal is to help children have the ability to feel centered in a sometimes chaotic world,” says Sue Tolchin, ECC Director. “Children are introduced to simple breathing activities in circle time. They have fun with a ‘Hoberman Sphere,’ a multicolored ball that can be manipulated to expand and contract and encourages children to breathe in and out. According to ECC Assistant Director Rebecca Roseman, “These practices are beneficial to young children, as well as adults, to help with self-regulation.”

Both Sue and Rebecca, along with their staff, have found that this type of training and practice has helped children become calm, grounded and ready to learn. The teachers love incorporating Mindfulness techniques into daily classroom life.

Here are some examples of how mindfulness is incorporated into the curriculum for each age group:

"The chime rings, we all hear and feel that familiar sound. We stop what we are doing, put our hands on both our heart and belly, breathe a deep breath and maybe for a second close our eyes. We become aware of that silence and breath and for that moment we become one, relaxed and calm, we are ready to learn and begin our day, mindful of everyone and ourselves."
-From the teachers of the Fours

"We use the Hoberman Sphere as a breathing tool when we come back in from outside to calm ourselves. We pretend we are blowing up a balloon and then popping it. The class loves to watch it expand and contract. We take turns using it and “blowing up balloons."
-From the teachers of the Twos

"We love to read Belly Breathe by Leslie Kimmelman and pretend to be different animals to control our breathing, like flapping our bird wings or raising our elephant trunks."
-From the teachers of the Threes

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