Mindfulness at Manitou School: Modeling Social-Emotional Learning for the Next Generation | Sponsored | Schools | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
Last Updated: 09/24/2019 10:20 am

The word Manitou comes from an old Algonquian concept of “spirit”—a fundamental life force emanating from everything. When the Manitou school in Cold Spring opened its doors to students six years ago, they kept the goal of nurturing each child’s joyful energy front and center.

One seven-year-old explained, “Mindfulness is when you’ve got to connect your mind to your brain and then to your heart.” Manitou students practice mindfulness daily.

  • Photo by Caroline Kaye Photography
The children at Manitou School aren’t the only ones being mindful. “Everything we ask kids to do, we need to practice ourselves,” says director Maria Stein-Marrison. “The best educational tool is modeling. So every teacher needed to develop their own mindfulness practice, and they participate in all of the exercises the children are doing.”

For the youngest children, Mindfulness is taught through games and activities. “For example, our three-year-olds may imagine they are frogs on a lily pad. ‘Pretend you’re hunting flies, but only with your eyes,’” Stein-Marrison says. Elementary students focus more on noticing their own feelings and what they observe happening around them. “They practice stillness, both ‘spotlight’ and ‘floodlight’ attention, and slowly evolve from there. Our middle schoolers develop a connection to the rest of the world, learn how to sit with discomfort, advocate for themselves and for others, and how to listen.”

  • Photo by Caroline Kaye Photography

A student-teacher ratio of about 8:1 makes this individual application of state-of-the-art learning possible. It’s rounded out by social emotional skill building, conflict management, and emotional self-regulation that can help build competency and resilience in a myriad of ways.

Teachers at Manitou come to their work well versed in a range of progressive educational practices, including Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia, as well as the most up-to-date research on child development and neuroscience. Through a hands on and experiential curriculum in both English and Spanish, The Manitou School tailors lessons to the unique educational needs and personal interests of every child.

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