Middle School Mindfulness

The sixth graders took deep breaths, closed their eyes and meditated on kind thoughts about a person close to them. Next came the hard part; they had to think kind thoughts about themselves.

“It’s easier to say good things to other people,” said Sara Baio, the mindfulness instructor and social and emotional learning coach at George Fischer Middle School. “But it’s important to send thoughts of happiness to yourself. We spend too much time being hard on ourselves.”

Baio runs a pilot program that teaches fifth and sixth graders self-awareness and strategies to regulate their emotions. She visits independent study classes once a week for 15-minute mini lessons and invites students to come to her classes during their recess if they choose.

After they meditated on self-care in the recent lesson, the students wrote their thoughts on heart-shaped Post-it notes that Baio handed out.  

 “Don’t compare yourself to others, you are enough,” said Kamil.

“I am ok today, I tried my best,” said Ryan.

“Try to love yourself,” said Matthew.

“Our mistakes make us who we are,” said Bella.

Baio asked if she could add to that: “Our mistakes make us the beautiful people we are.”

Because the program is run during students’ down time, they always have a choice whether to participate.

“She’s made great strides with this class,” said sixth grade teacher Courtney Cooper. “This is their independent study and a lot of them want to do their homework while they are here, but even when they are on their computers, I can see that they are listening and getting something out of it.”