Denver Public Schools “Mindfulness” class teaches gratitude, appreciation of surroundings

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Mindfulness Meditation in the Classroom
Mindfulness Meditation in the Classroom The Denver Post

Mindfulness Meditation in the ClassroomAndy Cross, The Denver Post  Second-graders from left to right, Piper Slavin, Peter Nichols, Carter Barker and Lila Gerlach, close their eyes and collect their thoughts during a 15-minute Creative Challenge Community school Mindfulness class on Nov. 17, 2016.

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Charlie Moats stood tall among his classmates at Creativity ChallengeCommunity school and listed why he is so grateful.

“I’m grateful for food, otherwise we’d starve to death,” the 8-year-old said. “I’m grateful for my sister, my puppy and my fish.”

Charlie spoke during a “Mindfulness” class at the southeast Denver elementary school that emphasizes creative problem-solving and critical thinking among its 290 students.

Mindfulness — paying attention on purpose without judgment — is being taught in thousands of schools, board rooms and offices across the country. The benefits of mindfulness have been published in research by the University of North Carolina, Carnegie Melon University and the National Institutes of Health.

 

Proponents say mindfulness helps students maintain more control of their emotions and surroundings, said Melissa Kaufmann, mindfulness program director and instructor at Creativity Challenge Community.

“When I designed this mindfulness program, I was hoping to teach students to self-regulate and have a toolbox for mindful tactics to use in their daily lives,” said Kaufmann, known as Miss Melissa to her students. “After taking mindfulness classes, students understand how to maintain focus in and outside of schools, how to be aware of their

 

 

The Denver Public Schools are teaching mindfulness, gratitude and appreciation to their little cubs! Love, Love, Love!
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Mindfulness Meditation in the ClassroomMindfulness instructor Melissa Kaufmann uses a Tibetan ringing bowl during a 15-minute Creative Challenge Community School’s Mindfulness class on Nov. 17, 2016.

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.

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