Planting the Seeds of Mindfulness at GUS

Elliott Buck, second grade teacher and GUS resident wellness guru, has been planting the seeds of mindfulness at GUS since starting here in 2014.

In Buck’s second grade class, mindfulness is embedded into the daily routine, and has become very much a part of the class culture. Each day begins with yoga to calm and focus eager minds, and concludes with a reflection or meditation - sometimes lead by a student. In between, students practice deep breathing and mindful transitions when moving from one activity to the next.

But what exactly is mindfulness? At GUS, we define mindfulness as practicing internal and external awareness. It’s “noticing what’s happening right now,” and “paying attention with kindness to yourself, other people, and the world around you.”

Recently, our second graders have been practicing loving kindness meditations, have escaped outdoors, as the weather allows, for yoga practice and mindful walks, and even prepared poems of gratitude for the new playground. During lower school FleX week, student’s in Buck’s popular yoga class made essential oil rollers and bath salts, created yoga sequences, and wrote gratitude notes.

While all this mindful activity may sound perfectly lovely, there is scientific evidence behind the method too. Benefits of mindfulness have been shown to include: more patience, better focus and productivity, increased compassion, heightened body awareness, greater calm, and less stress and anxiety, to name a few.

“Mindfulness has had a profound and positive effect in my life. I am always learning new ways to implement practices into my life, and I want my students’ lives to be enriched as well,” says Buck. “My second graders are incredibly receptive and my hope is that they will carry these experiences throughout their lives and build the foundation for a healthy mind, body and spirit.”

Beyond the second grade classroom, Buck is dedicated to bringing mindfulness to the larger GUS community. You may recall seeing our second graders leading the whole school through a mindful moment at a recent all school meeting, and you’ve likely noticed the ‘Mindfulness at Home’ tips and articles in our weekly Bulletin. This year, our second grade class has been traveling to other grades to lead meditations, and teach yoga and deep breathing.  Keep an eye out for the subtle ways Buck’s efforts are seeping into our community - and into the minds of our children!

“Meditation was the most talked about learning during (my daughter's) second grade year. She taught us how to do it, and would practice it on her own as well. To this day she uses meditation to calm herself when she is frustrated. These sorts of skills are imperative life skills that help her to feel confident, centered, and ready to take on the world.” - GUS Parent

“Having meditation as a tool is very handy when our son gets upset and we don’t readily understand why. It gives him and us some time to slow down and sort out what is happening. It has been enjoyable and we’ve seen it help him develop imagination and confidence.” - GUS Parent

Thank you Elliott for making GUS a more mindful community!

Elliott Buck, B.A., B.S., M.Ed, has completed the Mindful Schools Educator Essentials, and is currently pursuing her certificate in Mindfulness at Lesley University.