What does actress Goldie Hawn have to do with neuroscience? Her foundation’s school-based MindUP program helps kids focus and concentrate, relieve stress, self-regulate, become more empathetic and improve emotional and social learning capabilities — and even benefit in some cases from improved academic performance. With a basis in positive psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness, MindUp helps thousands of kids each year. And unsurprisingly, these always useful tactics have helped teachers and administrators as well. Read on to learn more about how the program’s 15 lessons and the MindUP mentality changed the entire environment at one school in Portland, Oregon.

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MindUP came to Marysville School at a time of turmoil: their 87 year-old building had burned down and the school relocated for three years while a new building was being rebuilt. Many of Marysville’s students come from financially disadvantaged families, and the mindfulness program was initially introduced to help the students deal with the stressors in their lives by explaining brain processes and the body’s reactions to stress, anger, or fear, as well as incorporating breathing exercises and other activities to help students feel present, optimistic, and citizens of the school community and world beyond. While the program was deemed successful for the students from early on, the lessons were initially taught by counselors, and Marysville’s own teachers began clamoring for their piece of the MindUp pie and its benefits. The classroom teachers then trained as well and began doing MindUP lessons concurrently during the school day. As a result of the widespread interest and appeal of the program, mindfulness has now become a daily part of programming at the school, with teachers taking a “brain break” at the beginning of staff meetings and lesson planning occurring through the lens of MindUP concepts. As revolutionary as these concepts might seem, the MindUP curriculum was designed to align easily with Common Core standards.

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In addition to happier teachers (the school reports a 95% satisfaction rate for adults working in the building as well as an ease in finding quality teachers for open positions), Marysville found that the atmosphere of the entire school changed. Like many other schools that have instituted mindfulness programs, discipline referrals have dropped and kids are using mindfulness in all aspects of school life — not only where academics are concerned. Both students and teachers now possess valuable tools for controlling their stress, having a more positive outlook, learning to relax, understanding how to get along better with others, and being present and more mindful of the moments of their days.

+ MindUP

via KQED News

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