The most important group to be addressed is children. They are our future and it is critical that we help them learn to pay attention and develop good coping skills while increasing their resilience. While we usually try to make children pay attention, which sometimes ends up resorting to yelling, we don’t really bother to teach them how to pay attention. It’s difficult to expect children to be calm and attentive in class when they often come to school having eaten a bag of Doritos and Coke for breakfast, or when there are so many other things vying for their attention: video games, cell phones, etc. Something needs to be done to settle them down before learning can take place.

We find that students exposed to some simple and easy calming practices at the beginning of their school day tend to participate with greater interest and attention. They are also able to recognize situations where their emotions are out of control and able to self regulate by calling their own “self time out.” For example, going to the “peace corner” or some similar calming area on their own whenever necessary.

Our Children in Mind campaign launched in Wichita in September of 2014 as a follow up to introductory training provided to 215 early educators, administrative staff and even school bus drivers to better understand the impact of positive psychology, neuroscience, mindfulness and social and emotional learning. Built upon some of the things we learned from Congressman Tim Ryan’s initiative in Warren and Youngstown, OH schools, the program focuses on helping kids better understand their feelings and regulate their emotions.

The social and emotional skills imparted to the children as part of the program address self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship skills, and ultimately lead to more responsible decision-making.

We realize that the most scalable way to reach children is through their teachers. However, the teacher also needs to be ready and have the space for compassion and empathy for the emotional state of the child.

While we are doing so much with so little, it does take the support of key partners and visionary donors in communities across the country to help scale this movement and truly realize a Mindful Nation. Please commit to supporting our programs today with your financial contribution and your energy – and be the spark that transforms our nation.

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