The mindfulness program was started thanks largely to a $4,500 donation from an anonymous parent donor, Applebaum said. The Denver Public School, which opened in 2012, has since received a $2,000 grant in hopes of expanding the program.
“Before, the kids would have had a hard time sitting still for any duration of time,” Kaufmann said. “Whereas now they are able to sit with mindful bodies — quiet, still and eyes closed — for upward to two minutes at time.”
Critics say mindfulness is part of a movement to introduce Buddhist practices into secular classrooms. Others say mindfulness sessions are just another task already overburdened teachers are asked to take on.
Kaufmann’s mindfulness session did not mention a higher power or deity. And second-grade teacher Mariel Galgas said she gets as much out of mindfulness sessions as her students.
“I believe in it, and I think it helps give them some focus,” Galgas said. “These are good habits that will be helpful in the future.”Students were asked to draw pictures of what they were grateful for and focusing on that during their mindfulness meditation sessions, which involved silent sitting and deep belly breathing.