SEVEN GENERATIONS CHARTER SCHOOL
Paying attention often is easier said than done, especially in elementary school.
The right tools, however, can help.
Students at Seven Generations Charter School, Emmaus, stocked their tool kits Jan. 24 when Wynne Kinder and Kim Stoltzfus with Wellness Works in Schools guided students, teachers, staff, administrators and a small group of parents and guardians in a school-wide workshop to help students improve their attention skills through mindfulness techniques, movement and singing.
“We like to practice paying attention and when we practice it over and over we really get good at it,” Wynne Kinder, mindfulness and education consultant with Wellness Works in Schools, said at the start of the program.
Paul Hunter, principal at the school, had Kinder and her colleague Kim Stoltzfus visit the school to help students and staff learn to incorporate mindfulness techniques in dealing with such school-related stresses as test anxiety and settling disputes on the playground, factors often distracting students from focusing and paying better attention.
Hunter first worked with Kinder in Reading schools, he said, and described Kinder’s work as positive and, for some students, transformative.
“What she talks about she believes. You feel it and you know it.” Hunter said of Kinder.
In the school assembly, students honed their attention skills through listening, moving and singing, sometimes all at once. For instance, students sang “The Wheels on the Bus” in unison with each grade performing a different gesture. The exercise required students to focus on their own movement while being mindful of the students on either side as well as the students across the room.
Students also heard the deeply resonant ringing of what Kinder and Stoltzfus call a sound or attention bowl to center focus, an important skill in an environment full of distractions.
“We’re trapped in a multitasking world,” Kinder said.
Kinder, a teacher, created Wellness Works in Schools and taught in public and private schools before creating the Lancaster-based business, according to company literature available on the Wellness Works in Schools website. Stoltzfus, also a former teacher, is an instructor in the program.
In addition to the assembly, Kinder and Stoltzfus also visited classrooms and worked with teachers and staff in targeted groups during several sessions over two weeks at the school.