Parents Learn Mindfulness Techniques Their Children are Using in School
District Holds Family Mindfulness Night
This school year, Manchester’s elementary and middle schools have incorporated social emotional learning into daily instructional practices in an effort to address mindfulness practices and character development, and to support students in making positive and constructive decisions. To share some classroom practices with parents, the district held a Family Mindfulness Night for middle and elementary school students and their families on February 13, 2020 at Ridgeway Elementary School.
Guest presenter Sarah Stevenson, from Mindfulness Educational Services, shared the research that supports the importance of bringing mindfulness into classroom practices and presented strategies to support students at home. In her slide presentation, she shared some statistics about student stress, telling parents that one in five children in a given year will show signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder. She quoted a 2013 survey of high schoolers by the American Psychological Association, which found that the most common sources of stress were school (83%) and getting into a good college or figuring out what to do after high school (69%). In a survey by the Pew Research Center, she said, an astounding 70% of teens surveyed in early 2019 confirmed that they consider anxiety and depression a ‘major problem among their peers.’
Stevenson also shared strategies to support students at home, specifically three tools: breath, movement and mindful awareness. The breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to reprogram the stress-inducing habits in our life. Movement enhances flexibility, balance, coordination, and self-awareness. Mindful awareness increases focus, informs self-regulation practices, and promotes relaxation.
Student presenters demonstrated some of the mindfulness strategies they have learned in student assemblies throughout the year, and families gathered in the gym to try out some interactive games, songs, and movement activities.
Diane Pedroza, Director of Curriculum, said the evening was well-attended and well-received by parents and students.
Parents expressed these comments on evaluation forms:
“With all the everyday stress, it is nice to have some ways to take a moment and breathe.”
“I found it to be very informative. I loved all the breathing exercises and the movement through song.”
“It started to get my middle school child really thinking about himself and his actions.”
“100% very useful and very doable to do at home for just a few minutes each day.”
(Video shows photos of presentation and activities in the gym)