Youth Support through Social Emotional Learning

NewYork-Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network

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Youth Support: In Class Mindfulness Exercise (ICME)

Demographic risk factors and environmental stressors are related to the prevalence of negative student behaviors in urban settings. Incorporating stress-reduction strategies into the school environment can decrease the prevalence of negative behavior. Research shows that weaving stress-reduction programs into the class curriculum can improve students’ academic performance, self-esteem, concentration, and behavior problems.


To help students develop stress management skills that promote effective learning and wellbeing beyond elementary school.

PS.128: Taking time to Breath as you Pose like a tree! Third graders in a Tree Pose during In-Class Mindfulness Exercise (ICME)



  • Increase awareness and use of stress management/coping strategies
  • Improve emotional regulation
  • Increase concentration in the classroom
  • Ease transitions during school hours (i.e., between classroom periods, after lunch, etc.)
  • Through in-school practice increase the use of positive coping skills outside of school

School personnel

  • Increase knowledge and use of stress management/coping strategies for children (ie: incorporating mind/body exercises into the daily curriculum)
  • Increase utilization of social/emotional learning and trauma-informed practices that support students’ wellbeing and academic performance
  • Enhance knowledge on self-care strategies for optimal performance and well-being


  • Increase knowledge on how to help children manage common school aged stressors
  • Heighten caregivers’ capacity for developing their child’s positive stress management/coping skills
  • Enhance knowledge on self-care strategies for own well-being


The In-Class Mindfulness Exercise project (ICME) was developed by program manager, Dr. Evelyn Montañez, for elementary school-aged youth. This project is intended to actively engage classroom teachers and their students in mind/body exercises that promote learning and wellbeing. ICME services are adaptable to meet the needs of a classroom and are designed to be delivered in a developmentally aged appropriate manner, with materials and exercises. Therefore, tools have been created for both PreK-2nd graders and 3rd -5th graders. Parents/ caregivers are introduced to mind/body exercises throughout several psycho-education workshops to promote healthy coping skills at home and school. Independent of grade, ICME only requires a few minutes a day at any point during the day. It does not require any rigorous training, constant follow-up by trainers, or costly materials and handouts. It is a universal concept that does not impede on philosophy, religion, or creed.

Students & school personnel

  • Through a series of workshops and in-class service and workshop, students, parents  and teachers learn
    • how to define and recognize stress;
    • how the brain and body respond to stress; and
    • how to practice simple mind/body exercises to disengage their amygdala (emotional response center) and re-engage their executive functioning (where learning takes place).

Over 4-6 weeks, we demonstrate and engage the students in simple mind/body exercises in the classrooms to increase their level of comfortability and interests (i.e., tree, camel, warrior pose). Emphasis is also placed on how to reframe negative thoughts or situations to reduce stress.


  • Parents/ caregivers are introduced to mind/body exercises throughout several psycho-education workshops to promote healthy coping skills and boost academic performance


“Because of mindfulness strategies and test anxiety reduction strategies, as well as the instruction going on in the classroom, this year we reduced our student’s level 1 (which are the students not approaching state standards) by 17%”
-Mr. Hernandez, School Principal

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NewYork-Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network