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Social-Emotional Learning in Schools: MindUP Curriculum

Published  2 July 2017

MindUP teaches children about their brains

MindUP teaches children parts of the brain and the science behind how the brain influences their thinking, emotions, and behavior. They also learn about the connections between what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and how they are acting. Gaining this insight can help children make self-regulating choices to influence this interplay among their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

MindUP gives children brain breaks

A brain break is a short three-minute break when children are asked to quiet their minds to prepare for learning. Neuroscientific research has shown that when the amygdala (the part of our brain responsible for fight, flight or freeze responses) is overly activated, it is much more difficult for the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that is responsible for decision making) to do its job, or for the hippocampus (the part of the brain that holds our memories) to remember what you have learned. That’s why teachers are encouraged to practice brain breaks with their classes three times a day—in the morning, in the middle of the day, and near the end of the schoolday. Neuroplasticity research has shown that as little as 15 minutes of mindful practice each week can change the physiology of the brain and facilitate access to calm and relaxed concentration—think of this as exercising the brain like a muscle.

MindUP encourages mindful action in the world

Built on positive psychology research, MindUP promotes pro-social behavior to help children transition from a “me-centric” orientation into a “we-centric” mindset. MindUP encourages children to explore their world with a sharpened sense of seeing, smelling, tasting and movement. MindUP’s pro-social curriculum includes encouraging acts of kindness to others, exploring different perspectives to gain deeper insight, and expressing gratitude for what we are thankful for.

In the TEDMED below, Goldie Hawn talks about MindUP with Dan Siegel, M.D., one of the MindUP curriculum developers, which also include neuroscientists, positive psychologists, teachers, and mindfulness practitioners.