Book Review: A Still Quiet Place

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Calling all teachers/counselors/parents who want to bring mindfulness into their classrooms, kids yoga sessions, or work with small groups and individual kids.  A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions by Dr. Amy Saltzman is a must-have for your bookshelf. This invaluable resource covers Dr. Saltzman's 8-week curriculum for teaching mindfulness to kids ranging from Kindergarten all the way up to age 18.  Most activities target the 8-18 year-old range, but modifications for younger kids are provided throughout.  

There are many things I like about the layout of A Still Quiet Place, but two in particular stand out.  One is that Dr. Saltzman begins the book with background on the benefits of practicing mindfulness with kids, and how to approach teaching and facilitating sessions.  The book then goes into the curriculum, and finally ends by rounding back to the research and qualities/qualifications for teaching mindfulness to kids. It is written in such a well-rounded, sensible way. The second thing I like is that while each chapter covers one full class lesson plan with many different activities, the activities themselves are broken down in such a way that you can choose to do all of them in one weekly class or break them down into shorter, more frequent sessions. I feel like this makes it easier to be flexible with the time you have (especially in a public school setting).

If you have your own mindfulness practice - which Dr. Saltzman highly recommends before bringing this curriculum to students - the content will be quite familiar. However, the language is so perfectly written for students of all ages.  Its doesn't use flowery language or try to over-simplify the concepts of mindfulness. Rather it provides information in fun, smart, and straightforward ways. The lesson plans provide a variety of activities so you're never spending too long on one thing, but rather honoring the natural attention spans of kids.  Home practices are also provided, as well as ideas for discussing home learning to support those who may be struggling to find time or motivation to continue with mindfulness outside of these sessions.  

Each of the eight lesson plans begin with Mindful Breathing and Mindful Eating. This creates a sense of continuity between classes, as well as provides a venue for kids to settle down and have a snack before beginning.  This is especially useful if you are leading classes after school!  The classes then vary, covering topics such as bringing kindness to your thoughts, recognizing repetitive (and potentially unhelpful) behaviors, and how to communicate with others in a mindful way.  Classes then always end with Mindful Listening, again adding to the consistency between sessions.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is already teaching mindfulness to kids/tweens/teens; those who are still learning about bringing mindfulness to this audience; and those who might just be interested in what this movement is all about.  Happy reading!