Northwood students practicing daily mindfulness
Students at Northwood Elementary School in Hilton are taking a minute to be mindful before starting their day.
During the morning announcements, students listen to a chime with their palms up, turn their palms over when the tone fades and then up again when the tone chimes again over the course of one minute. The exercise helps students use their senses to focus on one thing and is part of the Hilton Central School District's focus on social-emotional learning.
SEL is the process through which individuals understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, demonstrate empathy for others and maintain positive relationships. Mindfulness is one of the current practices that supports SEL. The act of mindfulness is being fully present in the moment and using strategies to overcome chaos, stress, negative feelings, pressures and anxiety.
“The whole school stops, practices a mindful minute and then starts the day out centered and present,” Assistant Principal Kelley O'Connell-Byrne said. “We feel it is very powerful and the kids are so good at it.”
In addition to the fading tone practice, students learned mindful breathing — taking three breaths, in through the nose for four, hold for two and out for four. Mindful breathing triggers neurons in the brain that tell the body it is time to calm down.
Fourth grade teacher Rachel Pignagrande also has her students write in their gratitude journals each morning and holds another “Mindful Minute” later in the school day.