As part of the guidance curriculum and MindUp program, students have learned about empathy, mindfulness (self-awareness and social awareness), self-responsibility and gratitude. The National Standards on which the guidance curriculum is based focus on self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making and relationships. MindUp covers many of these as well so interweaving the two has been interesting and I think meaningful. The standards and the MindUp program also reinforce the concept of positive psychology. As I have mentioned before this concept focuses on people's strengths and developing the idea of 'what is working' as opposed to traditional approaches that focus on fixing what is 'wrong.' Research done on MindUp is now showing some really positive outcomes such as:
82% of children in grades four and five in one school district in British Columbia reported a more positive outlook and being able to make themselves happy.
58% of these children were observed as trying to help others more often.
Levels of cortisol which is the hormone released during stress in the students in this study were regulated and at a normal, healthy level. In another study in Jonsson, Ontario students showed improved social behavior and increased emotional control. These students in turn showed better academic growth and social/emotional stability.
Some of the activities that students have done in K/1 have focused on healthy relationships and what are welcoming behaviors and unwelcoming behaviors through discussion and games. Grades 2/3 are learning about how to develop positive character traits by looking at animals and insects in nature and how they approach challenges. Grades four through six have done a variety of activities about social awareness, self-management and responsible decision-making. We are now beginning to explore what our character strengths are and how we can bring that to better the world.
I wanted to share a few titles that I have found well written and very helpful for parents and teaching professionals alike
Reclaiming Childhood: Let Children Be Children in our Achievement-Oriented Society by William Crain
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough (appropriate name!)
Mindfulness and Character Strengths: A Practical Guide to Flourishing by Ryan Niemiac