Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Reviving an Ancient Practice

Teaching mindfulness in the classroom



Jessica Knopke leads a breathing exercise where each child blows a gentle, slow breath on a feather to make it “wiggle and dance”

Photos by Rana Faure

Jessica Knopke enters a classroom at ThistleWaithe Learning Center, asks the young children to form two lines, and quietly demonstrates how to lay their mini-yoga mats on the floor. The children follow. They all breathe in and out and then a young girl chimes a bowl as her classmates put their hands on their stomachs to feel their breath. Knopke then leads a breathing exercise where each child blows a gentle, slow breath on a feather to make it “wiggle and dance” in the air. Once all feathers have been collected, Knopke calmly leads the children in a conversation about difficult emotions and how to use their breath to make themselves feel better. 

In approximately 20 minutes, Knopke has taught a room of three and four year olds one of the most essential mindfulness skills, and they all understood. “Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment without judgment,” Knopke, owner of Lily Pad Yoga, explains. “When we practice mindfulness, we can manage difficult emotions, be kind to ourselves and each other, and pause before we react.”

It is believed that the concept of mindfulness dates back to approximately 1500 BCE as part of the Hinduism practice of yoga. In the past few years, mindfulness has experienced resurgence in the United States. Recently, educators and mental-health professionals are recognizing the benefits of teaching mindfulness to children. 

“I believe these are life skills,” says Gina Gratz, a third-grade teacher at Increase Miller Elementary School in Katonah. “Mindfulness helps children with attention, resilience, and compassion.”

Gratz uses mindfulness activities throughout the day, and, like many teachers who incorporate mindfulness, she makes sure to include a brief practice during their morning meeting and when the children return from lunch, helping them calm down and get into their “mindful bodies” to prepare for their lessons. 

The classroom is not the only place in a school where mindfulness can occur. Melanie Gilbert, a psychologist at Mt. Kisco Elementary School, has created “calm down stations.” Gilbert, who is working with twelve staff members to facilitate mindfulness teachings in various classrooms, recognized that some children might need to step away in order to compose themselves. 

“Our calm-down stations are filled with items such as squishy toys and Velcro,” Gilbert explains. “Whenever a child needs a minute to calm down, they can step right outside their classroom and breathe. Students who become overwhelmed or have emotional regulation issues use these cubbies to calm down, preventing bigger issues.”

At Katonah Elementary School, principal Christy Harris incorporates a mindfulness exercise into the school’s sharing assemblies where Knopke teaches a new skill each month, and the students and teachers practice together. This skill is then incorporated into the classrooms, along with any others the teachers use. 

“Mindfulness is something we started to layer in because we see it as a tool to help children be themselves—be the best learner, best friend, and the best thinker,” says Harris. 

Harris has observed mindfulness in action throughout the school. She recently witnessed a student practicing mindful breathing to calm his anxiety. “Instead of a 30-minute trip to the social worker, he stepped out for two minutes and was then able to rejoin his class,” Harris recalls.

Mindfulness can be practiced at any age. At John Jay High School psychologist Anne Marie Simone and her colleague, Jennifer Lovallo, are working with 14 students on Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), which teaches mindfulness as part of the program. 

For high school students, mindfully focusing on one task or emotion can be challenging. Simone helps students understand that multi-tasking is taxing, while being mindful about a single topic is more efficient. They also teach mindful behaviors and how to effectively control emotions.

“If a teacher says you never handed in that assignment, but you know you did, you may begin to feel reactive,” Simone explains. “We teach them to stop and focus on their long-term goals. It’s better to walk away and cool off than go head to head with the teacher.” 

From preschool through high school, mindfulness can make a difference. “When children learn these skills and grow with them, it’s amazing,” says Knopke. “If they feel nervous, anxious, or fearful, they are not in a position to learn. Mindfulness gives them strategies to feel calmer. It affects our central nervous system. It works.”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

Weekend activities and events in the area
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Party Time!

Great party venues in Bedford and beyond

Bedford Riding Lanes

The Bedford Riding Lanes Association, colloquially known as the BRLA....

Price Was Right

Fixing it Up with the Property Brothers

Top Successes for Bedford 2020

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Shout Outs - March & April

This, that, and the other things––in the Bedford area

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

March 2017

The Katonah Poetry Series continues its 50th Anniversary Season with a reading by Westchester native Kimiko Hahn. Born in Mt. Kisco, raised in Pleasantville, Hahn is the author of nine poetry...

Cost: $10; students free

Where:
Katonah Village Library
26 Bedford Road
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Katonah Poetry Series
Telephone: 914-271-1062
Contact Name: Julie Nord
Website »

More information

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

This exhibit examines the 19th-century origins of this traditionally African-American congregation, as well as Antioch's growth, people, music, and ministries over its long and vibrant history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bedford Hills Train Station
Depot Plaza
Bedford Hills, NY  10507
View map »


Sponsor: Bedford Hills Historical Museum
Telephone: 914-806-2518
Contact Name: Ellen Cohen, Elin Peterson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Patrick Raftery, Librarian for the Westchester County Historical Society, will present an overview of our county’s history that begins with the county’s occupation by Native Americans,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Library
271 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Library
Telephone: 914-764-5085
Website »

More information

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

New Moon Events at SunRaven: $30 per person  $25 for couples, or if you bring friends! Join us for the first New Moon of Spring! Aries is the sign of the warrior, action, initiative, and...

Cost: $30 per adult, $10 for children under 10, $50 for couples, $50 for two friends

Where:
SunRaven: The Home of Slow Medicine
501 Guard Hill Road
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Sponsor: Slow Medicine
Telephone: 914-218-3113
Contact Name: Tanya Neiman
Website »

More information

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

 Sign Up for Auditions Today: Register for Auditions with Denise Simon Acting Coach Website: www.DeniseSimonCoaching.com      Audition Date/Time: Dates:...

Cost: 0

Where:
Westmoreland Sanctuary
260 Chestnut Ridge Rd.
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Telephone: 914-666-8448
Contact Name: Westmoreland Sanctuary
Website »

More information

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “An Inverception,” a site-specific installation created by roster artist Jaq Belcher.   This is the first time the gallery will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (2030801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Westchester Community is in need of more than 40 foster homes to provide the county’s most vulnerable children with housing in a safe and stable environment. Come to this open house...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dole Community Center
250 South 6th Ave
Mount Vernon , NY  10550
View map »


Sponsor: United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Telephone: 914- 997-6700 ex 752
Contact Name: Pat Anderson
Website »

More information

On March 31st at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich, Pacific House is hosting a spectacular evening that will entice chocolate and music lovers alike.  The ninth annual Pacific House Dessert and...

Cost: $50

Where:
Hyatt Regency Greenwich
1800 E. Putnam Avenue
Old Greenwich, CT  06870
View map »


Sponsor: Pacific House
Telephone: 917-563-2435
Contact Name: Sloane Spanierman
Website »

More information

Spend the evening with award-winning poet, Spencer Reece, who will be screening the film Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Poems from the Murder Capital of the World. The film follows his...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Grace Farms Foundation
Telephone: 203-920-1702
Contact Name: Regan Hayes
Website »

More information

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “An Inverception,” a site-specific installation created by roster artist Jaq Belcher.   This is the first time the gallery will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (2030801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The annual Bedford Spring Antiques Show, now in its 32nd year, will take place on Saturday April 1st and Sunday April 2nd at the Harvey School in Katonah. The Bedford Spring Antiques Show is...

Cost: $15

Where:
The Harvey School
260 Jay Street
Katonah , NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
Telephone: (914) 234-9636

More information

Social Security benefits are not fixed or set in stone. There are over 500 ways to claim your benefits, and over 2700 rules for claiming Social Security benefits. Ralph S. Adorno, C.L.U. is an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Library
271 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Library
Telephone: 914-764-5085
Contact Name: Pound Ridge Library
Website »

More information

This year we feature 38 engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining films—a robust mix of documentaries and narratives, along with all eight episodes of False Flag, one of the latest...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

In what is believed to be a first for Westchester theatre, this is a festival celebrating women playwrights and directors with eight original one-act plays. Glass Ceiling Breakers offers a...

Cost: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students

Where:
Axial Theatre at St. John’s Episcopal Church
8 Sunnyside Avenue
Pleasantville, NY
View map »


Telephone: 914 286-7680
Website »

More information

The Bedford Hills Farmers’ Market, a project of the community group Bedford Hills LIVE, is unveiling its Second Annual Winter Farmers’ Market on Saturday, November 5 beginning at 10am....

Cost: Free

Where:
Bedford Hills Train Station
Depot Plaza
Bedford Hills, NY  10507
View map »


Telephone: 917.951.3588
Contact Name: Vanessa Pahucki

More information

Last Days of Pangea: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs November 19, 2016 - July 16, 2017 Image: Cast skull of Postosuchus, one of the largest carnivorous reptiles during the late Triassic, 200...

Cost: $7 adult, $6 Senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06878
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center Spring Youth Classes 2017 Spin It! Spring 2017 Youth Classes start March 26 at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester and run for 6 weeks. Build your inner artist while creating...

Cost: $120-$180

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Sponsor: Clay Art Center
Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “An Inverception,” a site-specific installation created by roster artist Jaq Belcher.   This is the first time the gallery will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (2030801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The 2017 Westchester Jewish Film Festival opens on March 16 and runs through April 2 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville. this year's festival features 38 films, both documentary...

Cost: varies

Where:
Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: AJC Westchester/Fairfield and others
Telephone: 914-773-7663424
Contact Name: Abby Popper
Website »

More information

Looking for something relaxing, creative and fun to do this Winter/Spring for the whole family. Take part in Clay Art Center’s Saturday Drop-In Clay Class, Saturdays from...

Cost: $25

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

Clay Art Center is pleased to present REVISIT: The Boneyard Featuring works by 40 internationally acclaimed ceramic artists who have taught workshops at Clay Art Center over the last 60...

Cost: 0

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Telephone: 914-937-2047
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags