Little Ripples incorporates three simple pillars into curriculum and everyday classroom engagement: peace, sharing, and helping. When iACT first set out to offer a skeleton curriculum that incorporated the best practices of preschool education worldwide, we very purposefully engaged trauma experts alongside experts in early childhood education and the refugee community themselves. We now know that trauma from events such as genocide and mass atrocities is passed down to children of those who have experienced the trauma, and affects how these children react and recover from stress. The children and teachers of Little Ripples are an example of a population in which these affects can be recognized, having been exposed to severe violence over a period of several years; yet they have very little access to psycho-social support for recovery.
In recent years, the science behind mindfulness has been greatly expanded and the understanding of the profound impact it has on trauma recovery and reconciliation has increased. A study, which focused on Congolese refugees, found that “[a]mong the refugees who were taught to meditate, 90 percent of them saw improvement in their symptoms, and by the end of the study, a total of 95 percent of the refugees who were meditating had become non-symptomatic of PTSD.”*
Based upon the science and proven impact of meditation for populations exposed to trauma, a key aspect of the Little Ripples curriculum is the introduction of mindfulness, so young refugee children may find refuge from the instability of camp life, nurture internal peace in the present moment, and carry that foundation with them as they grow.
Now, iACT and BellyBuds are partnering to strengthen the Little Ripples curriculum and further foster mindfulness in the Little Ripples classroom and larger refugee community.
The curriculum currently includes several modules that integrate mindfulness into the daily routine, including:
- Peace and Quiet Time
- Teachers create a peaceful classroom, lead children through mindfulness exercises, and give space and time for quiet reflection.
- Teachers lead children through mindfulness exercise, asking children to sit in a comfortable position, close their eyes, focus on deep breaths, and listen as the teachers talk them through a peaceful, present moment.
- Children learn various calming movements (move gently like a tree, wind, rain, etc.). Teachers use calming poses as transitions between lessons and during other times, based on children’s needs.
- Teachers create “peace circles” in which children can share their feelings.
- Children learn to use inner and outer senses by taking the time to listen to sounds around them and identify smells.
- Teachers create “peace corners” to allow children to have calming, reflective alone time when they feel angry or frustrated, or experience emotions they cannot yet regulate.
Help BellyBuds and Little Ripples expand the presence of mindfulness in the program!
*Mental health of refugees, internally displaced persons and other populations affected by conflict. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2000: 102
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