• Mindfulness for Student Mental Health in Schools

      Hayward, Lindsay
      Studies have shown an increase in mental illness among school-aged children, and schools do not provide adequate programming to meet the emotional needs of children and youth. Mindfulness is defined as present moment thinking with individuals focused on the current task at hand instead of past experiences or future desires. Research on the benefits of mindfulness within therapeutic and medical settings has been prominent; however, little research has connected the health benefits of mindfulness for school-aged children. Evidence shows that mindfulness has tremendous benefits in regards to stress management, self-efficacy, emotional regulation, academic achievement, and overall emotional wellbeing. This paper addresses the growing need for mindfulness as a form of prevention and intervention within schools. It provides the background and benefits of mindfulness, meeting all 3 learning domains and building a positive classroom culture. It also highlights a variety of approaches to mental health including the newly created REAL model for classroom teachers.
    • Supporting social-cognitive development in the elementary years: The role of executive function and self-regulation

      Julien, Karen
      Every day we make decisions that have repercussions. Sometimes the effects are immediate and intended; other times the effects might be unintended or might not be apparent for years. As parents or educators, part of our role is to support the development of children’s decision-making skills, helping them to develop patterns of adaptive decision-making that will serve them well in their current lives and into the future. Part of successful decision-making involves self-control, a system served by the brain’s executive functions (EF). This involves the ability to put aside immediate reactions and base decisions on a variety of important considerations. Social-cognitive development, the ongoing improvement of the ability to get along with others and to understand others’ emotions, expressions, motivations, and intents, relies, to a large degree, on the same EF systems. The current paper explores the interaction of these two factors (the role of EF in social-cognitive development), explores the research to determine the most effective approaches to improving both factors, and develops a handbook providing activities for educators to use while supporting the growth of both EF and social-cognitive skills. Results of a needs assessment reveal that the majority (59%) of educators surveyed had never used a social skills improvement program in their classrooms, while a full 95% believed that social skills are important or very important for a student’s academic success.