When I started teaching mindfulness based stress reduction with my 3rd graders, I worried there would be push-back from my parents thinking I would be teaching meditation, although the word was not used in the curriculum.
However, within the first week of practice, students would use the word meditation from their own background knowledge of the word.
Knowing this could be cause for concern, I briefly taught the students the difference between practicing breathing techniques to calm the brain and Meditation. Since then, in the nine years of teaching Mindfulness, I’ve only had one incident where a parent discontinued their child in the activities, due to religious choice.
The program I implemented was called The MindUp Curriculum by the Hawn Foundation. I chose this program, because it is non-secular in its teaching of mindfulness using brain-based research in the 15 activities.
Students were taught in the first three lessons how their body responds to stress and how to regulate the stress through mindful breathing techniques called Core Practice. For the rest of the twelve lessons in the program, the students learned how to be Mindful, practice Empathy, and to self regulate during stressful or excitable situations.