Pre-schoolers learn kindness, mindfulness

A pre-kindergarten class at P.S. 212 in Jackson Heights, Queens, is learning more than just the ABCs and 123s. Students are being taught kindness.

In 2013, the school started teaching its students a combination of yoga and mindfulness-based practices. But just a few months ago, it became one of the first public schools in New York City to introduce the kindness curriculum, which was developed by the center for healthy minds specifically for pre-K students.

"We do a mix of some yoga movements and mindfulness activities and practices that include kindness," Danielle Mahoney-Kertes, a literacy coach who runs the program. She visits each class once a week.

"We use sign language send some kind thoughts to ourselves and to others," Mahoney-Kertes said. "This just helps us to train ourselves to be positive and have a feeling inside that we care about others."

The students aren't the only ones learning about mindfulness. The teachers are getting involved, too.

"I took the mindfulness training program," teacher Melissa Acquavita said. "It has helped me tremendously in my life."

Valuable lessons are being taught at a very young age.

"I think if we all had some experience with mindfulness at a very young, we would learn how to cope with things thrown at as in life in different ways," Mahoney-Kertes said.