Mindfulness and Movement

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Mindfulness and Movement: A School-Based Program for Children and Adolescents

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to what is happening moment to moment in our lives. The practice teaches that, rather than react to life events, one can respond from a more thoughtful place. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness-based strategies support skills associated with social and emotional learning for children, as well as those that have to do with executive brain function. Mindfulness helps children by teaching them how to manage their emotions, decrease stress and anxiety, and provide a means to protect themselves from harsh self-criticism and redirect their energy in a positive direction. In addition, mindfulness can help facilitate focus and attention, and it can have a direct effect in the classroom, creating a calmer environment and a better place for learning.

Mindfulness and Movement is a unique classroom-based program using various modalities to help children develop a sense of intrinsic self-worth. The program incorporates elements of highly respected programs including Learning to Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum for Adolescents to Cultivate Emotion Regulation, Attention, and Performance, and MindUP™: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning-and Living.

Mindfulness and Movement takes a multi-tiered approach, addressing social and emotional learning, and the individual as well as the community within which he or she functions. Overarching program goals include:

  • promotion of greater self-understanding and an intrinsic sense of self-worth;
  • tools for recognition of the presence of stress and anxiety;
  • strategies to support stress and anxiety reduction;
  • methods to increase focus and self-control, and promote self-worth;
  • social skills development, motor planning skills, and community building.

Our Mindfulness and Movement instructors, Julie Coopersmith and Dr. Adam Berman, customize the program for our students in grade 4 – 8. Students are divided by gender, allowing those students to participate uninhibited. Each session is dedicated to a particular topic. Examples include: the brain and stress, the body and its senses, thoughts and mindfulness, emotions, gratitude, perspective taking, attention, and habits. Sessions are both didactic and experiential, and a variety of games and activities are utilized to understand and assimilate the class topics.

Julie Coopersmith has over 15 years experience in Mindfulness practices and holds an MBA in Health Care Administration. She is a graduate of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and has been mentored by Jenny Mills, founder of Roots and Wings, a Mindfulness program for children and teachers. She has taken extensive coursework in how to offer mindfulness to school based communities. Julie has developed mindfulness and yoga programs with occupational, physical, and speech therapists as well as psychotherapists, and has partnered with these professionals in her classes.

Dr. Adam Berman is a child psychologist and certified school psychologist who has many years of experience working with children with learning differences and those children who struggle with social skills. He received his Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and his certification as a school psychologist from Bryn Mawr College. He has a private practice where he provides therapy for children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Berman focuses upon increases in academic achievement for children, enhancing level of comfort within social environments, and strengthening relationships with peers and family.

Our Mindfulness and Movement Program is funded by a grant from the Kind Foundation.