I had the opportunity to sit in on story time in second grade recently. Criss cross applesauce, I leaned against the wall, needing the support now that I am no longer 7, and did some mindful breathing, as a student led us with the Hoberman Sphere. Squinting, I peaked around the room and realized that this group was genuinely meditating. In my 4 decades, I am still unable to quiet my busy mind. The result of one minute of mindful breathing was a calm and engaged group of 7 and 8 year olds, ready to listen intently and glean meaning from the story their teacher was about to read. I was surprised that they understood the depth of the message in the book, “be yourself, stand up for what you believe is right.” They discussed the story, taking turns without the “ooo…ooo…oooo’s” I remember from second grade and made thoughtful comments on what others had contributed.
Students begin social emotional learning in kindergarten, learning to recognize feelings and communicate with one another. With 3 years under their belt, second graders are leaders in mindfulness. This group of second graders has been to parent association meetings to explain to a packed room of adults what mindfulness means, and they are also leaders with youngest inductees, kindergarten buddies.