Bite-sized Mindfulness at Harrisburg Academy

By: Sarah Ballard

Imagine a warm summer day, laying on the soft grass, gazing at the blue sky and the drifting, puffy clouds. A soft breeze tickles the hairs on your arm and with the warmth of the sun on your skin, you are relaxed and taking a long breath in through your nose and a soft subtle breath out through your mouth. Keep breathing like this and feel how relaxed and safe you are on your cozy bed of grass.

This short, kid-friendly mindfulness practice guides our students out of the distractions of class or activity transition and allows for a focused, more connected learning experience. Since January, I’ve rotated through different classes at the Academy teaching mindfulness, or the simple art of bringing gentle, compassionate attention to the present moment. The mindfulness tips, stories, and activities children and grown-ups are learning can help promote happiness, relieve stress, and cultivate focus, curiosity, and empathy.

From toddlers, to developing adolescents, to adulthood, we are all navigating the “stuff of growing up,” and at each developmental stage of life, mindfulness can be a useful tool to teach patience, acceptance, and presence. In alignment with Harrisburg Academy’s strategic plan and curricular initiative to implement the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary and Middle Years Programmes (PYP and MYP), mindfulness-based social and emotional learning is an integral element to enhance students’ emotional regulation, focus, and engagement. Bite-sized mindfulness practices are simple to do, take very little time, and offer magnificent opportunities for our students and teachers to learn the unique habit of calming down, managing big emotions, and developing a practice that lasts a lifetime.