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Children today face an unprecedented amount of stress due to our fastpaced society, the influence of social media, and the threat of climate change and global pandemicss. Instructors also face new challenges with helping kids focus on what they need to learn. Including mindfulness as part of the curriculum has been shown to help students improve both their academic and social skills. With greater awareness of their feelings and surroundings, children will be more relaxed, creative, and self-confident. Psychologist Amoneeta Beckstein and mindfulness educator Jana York pooled their knowledge and experience to compile this time-friendly program that both teachers and caregivers can implement easily. Designed for kids aged five to eleven, the program can be readily adapted for younger children or teens and is applicable in the classroom or in homeschool settings. Lesson plans are based on the use of vowels (including Y for You) as a mnemonic device. Each letter represents an idea that helps students develop present-moment awareness: Attention, Experience, Investigate, Observe, and Understand. Empirically based exercises include discussion questions that enhance critical thinking skills, and engaging activities and games help children put into practice the concepts they learn. Mindfulness education fosters a new skill set that can last a lifetime. And, as a bonus, it is equally beneficial for instructors!
Amoneeta Beckstein, PhD is currently a professor of psychology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, and an adjunct faculty member and clinical supervisor in the counseling psychology program at Assumption University in Thailand. Jana York, MS has been a children's mindfulness educator and mindfulness practitioner for more than a decade. She is the author of U Is for Understanding: Claire's Journey toward Mindfulness, a chapter book designed to introduce mindfulness and social-emotional learning to children.