Mindfulness in the Classroom Helps New Haven Students Learn

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — At Edgewood School in New Haven, young students are being taught mindfulness techniques to calm their minds and improve their learning.

“We have between 60 and 80,000 thoughts a day, and so teaching kids how to calm that monkey mind it’s all about being mindful and being present, and being aware,” explained Lani Rosen-Gallagher, a mindfulness and yoga instructor.

On the day I stopped by, Rosen-Gallagher was in a second grade classroom, who she meets with once a week. She was teaching what she calls “mindful yoga” breaks, which involve breathing techniques, yoga poses and games.

“I’m teaching kids about their brain,” Rosen-Gallagher explained. “They have this part of the brain which we call the bulldog brain which is our amygdala, and then the front part of our brain which is the wise owl and our prefrontal cortex. So if they know these parts of their brain are dealing with their emotions, they can now start being mindful of how their emotions are effecting how they feel, and how they’re affecting other people around them.”

The goal is for students to use those tools on their own in order to calm their minds during stressful moments.

“These big emotions are happening, but a child now can take a big deep breath and calm it before that reaction,” Rosen-Gallagher said.

Edgewood’s principal Shanta Smith says since incorporating mindfulness into the curriculum last year, the school has experienced significant improvements.

“Most importantly, it’s impacted our suspension rates,” Smith explained. “They’ve gone down as a result of mindfulness practices in our classroom. Our students are able to express what’s happening within them, when they’re feeling certain emotions.”

And she says a survey last year of Edgewood’s parents shows the lessons are sticking with the students.

“The biggest piece of information that we received from parents, that was very helpful to them, was that they could see the change in their kids,” Smith said. “They could see them actually implementing and practicing those components.”

“As they grow, this is a practice they’ll take with them,” Rosen-Gallagher explained.

It’s a valuable lesson for a lifetime of mindfulness. To learn more about Rosen-Gallagher’s mindful yoga breaks, visit fullofjoyoga.com.

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