Phillips Avenue students participated in a mindful tasting lesson as part of the school’s new mindfulness curriculum. Courtesy photo: Riverhead Central School District

To help young minds flourish, two Riverhead Central School District elementary schools, Phillips Avenue and Roanoke Avenue, have adopted mindfulness curricula.

Developed by a team of neuroscientists, doctors, educators, and positive psychologists, the evidence-based wellness programs provide students with strategies to calm their minds, reduce anxiety and refocus. The lessons infuse exercises on compassion, stress reduction and self-awareness. According to the Mind Up curriculum, “the curriculum teaches children how to quiet their mind, relax, reduce stress, develop pro-social behaviors, and learn about the brain to better understand human behavior…As a result, optimistic classrooms that have a sense of hopefulness and joy are becoming an actuality…” according to the Hawn Foundation.

All of the hands-on lessons incorporate simple exercises led by trained teachers throughout the day. Exercises include breathing techniques, brain breaks and sensory activities.

From left, Tammi Michaelson, literary coach at Roanoke Avenue Elementary, and Corinne VanHoesen, a reading teacher demonstrated Roanoke Avenue Elementary School’s mindful tactile sensory exercise with fourth-grade students Madelin Cojon, Matthew Andrzejewski and Elizabeth Guzman. Courtesy photo: Riverhead Central School District

For example, during morning announcements at Roanoke Avenue, students are taught to prepare their minds for a day of learning by breathing and participating in a “Take 5” tactile sensory exercise. The school also provides positive messages of the week.

Phillips Avenue’s program is modeled after the Hawn Foundation’s Mind Up and includes 25 mindful lessons, complete with videos and worksheets. The program which inspires students to be mindful of things they taste, smell and hear recently received the attention of Goldie Hawn (see prior story here) who visited the school to see the program in action.

Source: Press release issued by the Riverhead Central School DIstrict dated Oct. 3, 2017.

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