Be Here Now

September 7, 2018
NAYA COSME, 9, holds a yoga pose at her school, in Brooklyn, New York.
LINA MAI FOR TIME FOR KIDS

Nine second graders are sitting on a blue rug. They are in a classroom at P.S. 54, an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York. A teacher strikes a bell. The students take a deep breath.

They are practicing mindfulness. They are learning to focus on the present moment. “Mindfulness teaches kids to notice what is going on inside and around them,” says Mariam Gates. She writes books for kids about mindfulness. “Mindfulness is about learning to check in with how you feel.”

Fifth-grade students at P.S. 54, in Brooklyn, New York, practice mindfulness twice a week. Here, they learn a yoga pose for focus.

LINA MAI FOR TIME FOR KIDS

Students at P.S. 54 practice mindfulness twice a week. An instructor leads them through deep breathing, movement, and relaxation exercises. The group also makes affirmations. These are positive statements, like “I am so smart” or “I am so kind.”

Naya Cosme, 9, has been learning mindfulness at P.S. 54 for two years. “It helps me calm my body,” she told TIME for Kids. “If I have a problem, I just breathe in. Then I feel better.”

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness isn’t only about staying calm and boosting your self-esteem. It also helps kids succeed in school. That’s according to a 2015 study. How might mindfulness add up to good grades? It trains the brain to pay attention.

Kathie Arseno of the nonprofit group Green Generations helps a second grader at P.S. 54 with a mindfulness writing project.

LINA MAI FOR TIME FOR KIDS

But you don’t have to be in school to be mindful. And you don’t have to be part of a group. “You can practice mindfulness without anyone knowing,” says Gates. “You can bring your attention to this moment and change how you experience it.”

Did You Know?

LINA MAI FOR TIME FOR KIDS

You can practice mindfulness. Here is one way.

  • Sit down. Close your eyes.

  • Count to four as you breathe in.

  • Count to four as you breathe out.

  • Repeat three times.

CORRECTION: In the print version of this story, we incorrectly identified the teacher in this photo as Kathie Arnes. Her name is Kathie Arseno.