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Wellness Education in 2019

Happy New Decade! 

The 2010's saw huge gains in wellness education. Many schools embraced Social-Emotional Learning programs, and California introduced its first state standards for Social-Emotional Learning in the classroom. Mindfulness was increasingly practiced in schools, and yoga became more commonly integrated into physical education, elective classes, and the general curriculum. 

As we enter the new year, let’s take a moment to reflect and look back on some of the positive news stories about Wellness Education from 2019.

A bill was passed in California banning suspensions of elementary and middle school students for "willful defiance." Part of the impetus for this bill was the disproportionately high suspensions of students of color compared to white students. Listen to this NPR news story to hear about one school in LA that sought to replace suspensions with mindfulness practice. More from NPR

I wouldn't associate video games with mindfulness-- but that’s exactly what researchers at UC Irvine and University of Wisconsin-Madison did to come up with their ingenious breath-counting game, Tenacity. Their research showed the game to be effective in improving kids’ attention, a key benefit of mindfulness practice.

How I wish the U.S. government would follow in the U.K.’s footsteps on this one! (Not likely to be on Betsy DeVos’s agenda, however.) The British government presented an initiative to bring mindfulness to up to 370 schools across the U.K., as part of a study that will last until 2021. Students will learn mindfulness relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and other methods to help them regulate their emotions. 

If you don’t know much about Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), I recommend reading this article by the Yale Center’s associate director of emotional intelligence: it discusses SEL education through the lens of Mr. Roger’s legacy, in light of the recent release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. 

If for some reason, you read this newsletter but are still not convinced that yoga is good for kids, then scope this article about the rise of yoga offerings for children in recent years. It provides a brief overview of the benefits of yoga and embodied movement for kids. It also offers some resources and suggestions for introducing yoga to your kids or students.

Researchers and policymakers across the U.S. introduced yoga and mindfulness into schools this year, some as part of research studies and others as part of school district initiatives. Three examples are linked below in articles about Houston, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia schools. These articles also provide a nice overview of proven benefits of mindfulness and yoga for kids.

Please do comment to offer your thoughts on this year's wellness education news, or any other articles you'd like to share. Here's to further progress in wellness education in the decade to come! <3 Emily Listmann


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