The confluence of many factors in today’s educational system causes significant stress for teachers, which translates into stressful classrooms. Funding cuts threaten the ability of teachers to teach effectively with minimal support and resources. Teachers face ever changing educational policies, overwhelming paperwork, long hours with inadequate pay, traumatized students with special needs, the requirement to teach to standardized tests and the challenge of balancing work and home life. All of these factors contribute to classroom environments too often fraught with tension, frustration and disruptive behavior. Resources are rare for educational experiences that offer opportunities to learn about and express oneself, that encourage engagement with peers, and that bring curiosity and joy into the classroom.
LifeSchool for Schools was created to address these stressors by teaching life skills that are not included in teacher training or school curricula, or taught in many homes, but that are crucial to leading healthy, productive lives. The program provides experiential education that fosters self-awareness, self-expression and self-regulation, resulting in the development of the whole person. These skills are part of the social emotional learning that is the foundation for mastering the academic subjects that define success in our educational system, and for relationships and ultimately career success.
Both pedagogical and medical literature strongly suggest that an integrative approach to education, with mindfulness practices seamlessly interwoven into intellectual and cognitive development, produces optimal learning for students. It also enhances teachers’ feelings of well-being and self-efficacy, enabling them to better manage classroom behavior.
We believe that teachers are the key to changing classroom culture. In order for children to learn these skills, their teachers must be using them and authentically modeling them with their students. Teachers need skills to manage their own stress in order to create a calm and peaceful classroom where children can, in turn, learn these skills in order to grow socially, emotionally, and intellectually. We start by working intensively with small groups of teachers, paraprofessionals and staff, helping them translate these skills into age-appropriate, experiential lessons for children.
The core curriculum addresses the science of the autonomic nervous system, neuroplasticity, trauma, positive psychology, nutrition and mindful movement. Practical techniques to promote well-being include: breathing, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, relaxation methods, guided imagery, journaling, narrative writing, movement, creative drawing and nutrition.
“This course helped me understand that I not only had permission to take care of myself but that it was actually a crucial responsibility to take care of myself, relax, and arrive in my classroom in a peaceful calm state.”
LIfeSchool is now integrated into several elementary schools in the Berkshire area including: Crosby, Conte, Muddy Brook and Allendale. Please contact CPC if you, your classroom, school, or school district is interested.