As California's kids return to the classroom they are bringing more than backpacks and lunchboxes -- many are also carrying a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.
In the Bay Area, the San Francisco Unified School District in response is hoping to teach their kids to manage those worries by offering students a lesson in emotions.
Part of the curriculum calls for educators to teach mindfulness to first graders, which helps students learn the value of quietness and getting centered. The program also aims to teach kids how to be mindful of others through their own self-identity.
"When they're able to identify their own feelings, for example, where they feel it in their body, they can actually have more empathy for other people because they might recognize that in someone else," said Susi Brennan, a mindfulness teacher.
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SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said the curriculum is available to each of the district's 57,000 students at all grade levels.
"We want them to have the opportunity to lower their anxiety and to center themselves," Matthews said. So we take that time during the school day to make sure that's happening."
A former student and school counselor, who is now vice president of the school board, said the program has been such a valuable life tool for so long, it only makes sense to make it part of the regular curriculum.
"It really helps address things like trauma and depression," SFUSD Board Vice President Faauuga Moliga. "And really with all the anxiety we're facing today the best thing to do is to get grounded and anchored back into yourself."