Each day, following the first morning bell, students at Ross Lower School prepare for their day with a 20-minute mindfulness session. In an era of increased pressure on students to achieve, this practice may not be common, but students and their teachers have found it to be an essential aspect of a well-balanced education.
Implementing a mindfulness curriculum is gaining popularity in our country in recent years, but at Ross, Mindfulness has been one of Ross School’s Core Values and a key component of its Wellness initiatives since the school’s inception. In conjunction with a wide breadth of physical activity—which includes yoga and jiu jitsu—and serving healthful, locally sourced foods in the Café, the Wellness curriculum borrows from both Eastern and Western traditions to enhance students’ physical and emotional well-being.
“The Lower School has practiced mindfulness meditation for a long time,” said Wellness teacher Max Krieger. “It has become an ingrained practice that many of the students are comfortable with.”
Max leads Lower School students through intentional breathing exercises, body awareness meditations, and techniques to help them cope with stress. Take Five, for example, is an anxiety-reducing meditation where students concentrate on their breath while using the index finger of one hand to trace the outline of the other hand. Focusing on the action and sensation of tracing their hand can deflect a student’s anxiety and help them to restore normal breathing patterns.
Max believes that teaching students to be present early in life can help them to develop and sustain healthy habits into adulthood. “Seeing students use the mindfulness strategies in class, or during recess and lunch exemplifies this program’s value to our community,” he said.