Building a Community of “Mindfulness”
In recent years, “Mindfulness” has become a popular topic in many circles but particularly with education. Research indicates that mindfulness practice decreases stress and anxiety, increases attention, improves interpersonal relationships, and increases compassion. Moreover, for children, practicing mindfulness can build social and emotional resilience and improve their ability to learn.
So what is mindfulness? Simply stated: It means paying attention to the moment without judgment. For a classroom, it can be about creating calm.
Linda’s Angels Child Care & Development Center serves as a great example of an early care and education center that embraces the power of this concept. Located in New Castle, Del., the center provides care and education for 234 children, ages infant through school age. What started out as a family child care program in Linda Bright’s home thirty years ago, is now a flourishing hub of community for its families and staff alike.
“We believe in investing in the staff,” said Linda Bright, site owner. “We do this through multiple ways such as professional development opportunities. This includes providing social/emotional techniques and strategies.”
One of those techniques is the program “Mindful Mondays.” Brinetta Bright, program director, shares by email a topic that will help sustain and encourage staff and families throughout the week. The staff in turn takes the topic and shares a developmentally appropriate activity with the children.
For example, for the week prior to Thanksgiving, the theme was gratitude. At the annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, together with their families, the children released “light balloons” at the end of the event that included a message of thankfulness.
Miss Brinetta also visits the four-year old classrooms with a “Mindfulness Cart.” The cart includes ideas and topics that help students and staff bring a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. “The best way to teach mindfulness is to model it and then practice it,” added Miss Brinetta.
Miss Linda and Miss Brinetta’s commitment to their vision of investing in their staff and children has paid off. They have very little turnover with their employees and the center is growing exponentially. In fact, in March they opened a second building that includes an indoor gross motor area.
Delaware Stars Technical Assistant Dena Nacci has had a front row seat to their success. “Linda has created a culture of continuous improvement,” said Dena. “She and her staff are fully committed to working with Stars in every aspect such as on-site consultation, assistance with assessment tools, and help with curriculum planning and training.”
“Linda is committed to her vision of providing loving care and education to Delaware’s children and support to their families,” added Dena. There is no doubt that Linda and her staff are mindful of their goals.