Third and fourth-grade students in the new Mindfulness Club at Lee Road Elementary School in North Wantagh gathered on the morning of Dec. 8 to learn the importance of mindful eating. Under the guidance of teacher Melanie Anderson, students discussed the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.
Through the Mindfulness Club, students learn how to channel their emotions and observe their feelings. They also practice breathing techniques and discuss what being mindful does to an individual’s brain and find healthy ways to manage stress. During the meeting, Anderson read the book “No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully” written by Sara Marlowe. Following the book, each student was given an apple and learned how to eat slowly and connect with their food for 10 minutes. Using their senses, the students discussed how it felt to not eat the apple quickly and reflected on living in the moment.
“Next time I’m going to do this because I also have an apple for snack,” said third-grader Kristos Kovoros.
This is the second year that mindfulness has been embraced in the Levittown School District. In addition to the weekly club, Anderson created monthly Mindfulness Parent Workshops, which kicked off last October. Anderson has been a teacher at the school for 22 years and is currently enrolled in the Mindful Schools year-long certification program. She has also participated in silent retreats, completed several courses in mindfulness meditation and completed an eight-week mindfulness based stress reduction program.
The Mindfulness Parent Workshops, which Anderson will facilitate until March, covers a variety of different topics on how to live in the present moment. Previous sessions included practicing mindfulness meditation and mindful eating. The program has been a success, with over 50 community members participating in the meditation workshop. The next parent workshop, “Mindfulness & ADHD” will be held at Lee Road on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
“Research has shown that a significant predictor of students’ future success is their ability to self-control,” Anderson said. “It trumps any kind of social-economics status or even academic ability. Being aware in the present moment is a great way for them to learn how to bring self-awareness to everyday experiences and turn reactions into responses.”