In a feature story published in The Atlantic on an Erikson Institute-led study on mindfulness and young children in Chicago classrooms, Assistant Professor Amanda Moreno, Ph.D., says the project, funded primarily by a prestigious U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation grant, is helping students in kindergarten through second grade manage stress, build self-regulation skills, and focus on learning. Teachers are trained to lead daily mindfulness exercises, such as breathing with eyes closed, and students can take daily “brain breaks” by watching relaxing nature videos.
According to the article, “For kids who have suffered from prolonged stress or trauma, mindfulness seems to offer a way of ‘short-circuiting’ the fight-or-flight response, Moreno said. It helps kids with the greatest self-regulation challenges adapt to slower, more methodical classroom settings. Moreno said she’s heard from teachers with students who have gone from five or six tantrums a day to none because they know they can go to their classroom’s ‘calm spot’ whenever they feel like they’re spiraling out of control.”
Erikson has partnered with the Luster Learning Institute, designers of the Calm ClassroomTM program, and Chapin Hall, a policy research center at the University of Chicago, which will conduct the independent evaluation to determine the project’s impact on children, classrooms, and schools.
“There’s a productivity to it and a humanity to it, and people are beginning to realize the two are quite compatible and necessary for each other,” Moreno says in the article.