by Edith Troen
STEM. The acronym is all over the place. President Obama preaches it whenever he can. In case you’ve been out of the loop, it’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. And that’s all that seems to matter to educators today. That, along with test scores.
But we fail to equip students with important life skills to ensure their emotional and physical well being. We forget to teach our children how to be resilient; how to create peace in their lives; how to embrace failure - the very failures that will lead to their greatest successes; how to relate to others and to themselves; and, most importantly, how to live happy and productive lives.
What do you want for your children: The highest math score or the highest happiness score? The highest science score or the highest compassion score?
This is where mindfulness, yoga and neuroscience come into play.
There’s strong evidence that mindfulness and yoga can positively impact the emotional and physical state of teens 1. Recent research suggests that mindful interventions can help reduce teens’ fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression while improving behavior, self-esteem, social and interpersonal relationships 2. Studies also show that multi-modal modalities that include body-mind education can help increase children’s academic performance 3. In recent years, imaging studies such as MRIs have also significantly contributed to the evidence of mindful practices showing that incredible changes take place in the brains of meditators. Some of those changes include increased grey matter, and in areas of the brain that are directly associated to focus, learning, emotions, compassion, and kindness 4.
Given all the research showing that mindfulness and yoga can help improve the overall resilience and wellbeing of teens, it is perplexing that most schools choose not to integrate any of it into their curricula.
It’s heartbreaking that we have this information, yet most of our educational policy makers choose not to take it into account. And there’s a huge stake in this: a happier and safer society, for all of us.
There are some schools who are choosing their own path. And are achieving great results. Recently, a public school in San Francisco broke the news because they introduced “Quiet Time” twice a day. This “Quite Time” allows students to slow down and relax while they listen to gong sounds. In the first year of Quite Time the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent, attendance climbed to 98% (above city average), and GPA’s improved incredibly. Now, the annual California Healthy Kids Survey reported that these kids have the highest happiest score in San Francisco.
While we have yet to infiltrate the Austin and Round Rock school districts, we are dedicated to teach children the tools to live the most successful lives they can. The tools of gratitude, self-compassion, body awareness, resilience. The tools needed to face the stresses of school, and life, with ease. And the tools needed to live happy and successful lives.
If you have a teen girl you want to learn the most important life skills, the ones they don’t teach in school, join us for Teen Life Mastery: Resilience Skills for High School and Beyond. This 10-week class begins Sept. 6th, and could be the biggest gift you ever offer your child. An opportunity to learn beyond STEM. To learn about themselves, and how they can be better, and happier, people.
They say Happiness is a choice. But it’s hard to make the choice if you don’t know it’s an option and you don’t have the tools. You now have an option. We will teach you the tools. Please join us as we begin transforming the world, starting with our children.
1. White et al, 2014.
2. Hook et al, 2015
3. Kauts et al, 2009
4. Hozel et al, 2011