The new school year has begun and with it comes a wonderful enhancement to our curriculum – Mindfulness.
Michael and Louise Okin approached Head of School, Michael Reardon in the spring. Their son, Matthew ’92 had recently passed away and they wanted to be sure that he was remembered in a way that benefited the Meadowbrook School community. Louise, a clinical psychiatrist, had been studying mindfulness and had come across the organization Minding Your Mind. After meeting with one of their speakers, Julie Coopersmith, the Okins became convinced that starting Matthew’s Mindful Moments at Meadowbrook was the perfect way to honor Matthew’s memory.
Mindfulness is the process of bringing one’s attention to the thoughts and experiences occurring in the present moment without judging them and in the name of self-empowerment and joy. Research has shown that the practice is strongly correlated with health and well-being, as it helps to reduce rumination and worry which both can contribute to depression and anxiety. In addition mindfulness supports self-regulation and teaches skills for stress reduction to support attention and focus. It is, essentially, a skill that contributes to individual resilience: the overcoming of both small and large adversities which our kids face every day.
It was fortuitous that at the same time we were in discussions with the Okins about how to implement Matthew’s Mindful Moment at Meadowbrook that we were able to hire Diana Caramanico as a teaching assistant. While Diana is enhancing our language program and enriching our math program, her passion is mindfulness and positive psychology. In partnership with Julie Coopersmith of Minding Your Mind, Diana has already begun implementing, or “sprinkling”, as Diana calls it, Mindfulness among our students. We will have a Matthew’s Mindful Moment during assemblies and each teacher will be trained so that it can be implemented in every class.
Yesterday was the perfect day to bring Mindfulness to Meadowbrook. Julie visited with the students in grades 1 through 6 and introduced ways to be mindful. First and second graders learned to “take 5 for peace” and experienced taking deep breaths to the letters P-E-A-C-E. Third and fourth graders learned to visualize, and fifth and sixth graders learned how to focus on the importance of breathing.
The Meadowbrook School is proud to be at the forefront of this educational movement by introducing Mindfulness to our young elementary aged students. With these enhancements to our existing curriculum, we are giving our students the tools they need to be able to overcome adversity and live out our mission; i.e. to be prepared and eager to take on challenges.
Mathew’s Mindful Moment is a memorial fund started in memory of Mathew Okin. He was a student at the Meadowbrook School from kindergarten through 6th grade.
The mission is to transform the lives of children by providing vital social and emotional programs. Mindfulness has proven success with reducing stress in children. Also, noted was less aggressive behavior and more tolerance for understanding differences with other children. Academic performance had increased and the ability to concentrate and focus. Mindfulness teaches tools and strategies to help children emotionally regulate and build self-esteem and resilience. Presently, it has been instituted in many schools and over 400, 000 children have participated.
The Okin family is excited to bring mindfulness to the Meadowbrook School. We know that our son Mathew would be aligned with our mission to create a world where children can thrive by teaching mindfulness, positive psychology combined with brain science to all our students, teachers and parents.