Exploring Mindfulness Through Meditation

“Mindfulness is a refined process of attention that allows children to see the world through a lens of attention, balance and compassion. When children learn to look at the world with attention, balance and compassion they soon learn to be in the world with attention, balance and compassion.”

– Susan Kaiser Greenland

 

“Art, Poetry, and Meditation” was the name given by my students to the final project of 2018. The project commenced with sitting meditation, in which the children and I sat on the garden stage in silence, bringing focus to the breathe and enjoying the stillness of our minds, all the while objectively watching the comings and goings of our thoughts.

After five minutes of sitting, I rang the singing bowl to signal the transition into silent moving meditation. Everyone slowly stood up at her own pace. Tallulah drifted toward the bed of flowers; Gautier hopped from one garden stone to another. Violet crouched down and met a red flower at eye level while Zohe positioned herself by the trunk of the orange tree and gazed up at its leaves, which gently rustled with the wind. Ruby made her way around the garden perimeter, playfully swaying from side-to-side, and Niko strolled with hands behind her back, clearly caught in deep contemplation.

After fifteen minutes of silent movement, I brought out the art supplies: freshly sharpened artist’s drawing pencils, a stack of card-stock paper, and markers of various colors. This was an invitation to begin art meditation. It was in this final phase that the students created their drawings and poems.

(Samples of student work will be posted in the next few days)

The Conference Room

“Un bambino ha tre insegnano a scuola: adulti, altri bambini, e l’ambiente.”

“A child has three teachers at school: adults, other children, and the environment.”

  – Loris Malaguzzi

The Conference Room is designed to inspire collaboration through face-to-face dialogue, encouraging children to think deeply,  spur  creativity, and develop empathy for others’ perspectives.

Every physical space in Strawberry Land is set up to be a dynamic partner in the children’s learning. Therefore, we construct the environment with purpose and care. This intention defines our relationships and reflects our identity as a school.

Dr. Naama Zoran writes, “The school’s identity is a lifelong journey, where every meeting and interaction adds to who we are.” Our KMS identity is visible in every space, and we can always see that who we are is reflected in where we are. The following story illustrates this concept and shows how cogently the environment speaks to the ideas, values, and attitudes of the children who use it:

Ruby, Niko, Zohe, and Esther huddle around the wooden table in The Conference Room, brainstorming ideas for their writing project. Their voices buzz with a euphony of meaningful dialogue. The young writers are, as the saying goes, in the zone. I stand aside and tune into their conversation.

“So the Goblins in my story, they’re going to be breakdancing,” says Niko.

“You can make one of your goblin dancers move like this,” Ruby demonstrates by  performing a slow moonwalk dance across the floor. 

“Yeah,” says Niko. That’s a good idea. The goblins are going to be breakdancing on the stage for other people. Ok, now do you guys have any ideas about what chapter 2 should be about?” Her question stirs another round of discourse.

A few minutes later, Zohe shares the progress she’s made on her second and third pages. She holds the book for all to see as her writing partners carefully study the work. “What is the red part on the top?” Esther asks. “Maybe it’s the top part of a rainbow?” Niko shrugs. “Maybe it’s a cloud,” Ruby ponders.

As I listen to the conversation, I take note of the fact that Zohe, Ruby, Niko, and Esther utilize the The Conference Room for its intended purpose: to confer, debate, and confide.

I’ve always admired The Conference Room’s faculty to humbly kindle the exchange of ideas and opinions, questions and answers, and to act as a safe space for conflict resolution.  The Conference Room, however, is more than a physical space where people go to talk. It is a philosophy which is defined, refined, and practiced by the children every day. It is understood by staff and students alike that everyone can help someone. Such altruism is a reflection of our identity, and it can be seen daily in The Conference Room.

At KMS age does not define who you are. We’re all in this together. No bias, no ego – just good-natured humans lending a helping hand. After all, every child has the right to speak up and be heard. The Conference Room is the perfect place for this to happen.