"My breath comes from my mother's grandmothers," a child responds.


When children (preschool-age) have an upset, I calmly call attention to their breath. I first gain eye contact.

"Look at me. Oh, there you are (when we're looking into each other's eyes). Find your breath if you can."

Using the breath helps calm feelings. Sometimes I show the children how particles in a newly poured glass of (unpasteurized) apple cider slowly settle and fall to the bottom of the glass. “When I’m still and listen to my breath, all the thoughts and feelings inside of me settle like the apple particles in this glass of cider.” (I learned this from Thich Nhat Hanh.)

Circle starts with quiet and practice being still with our breath.

“Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and a deep breath out through your mouth. Again.” 

We sit quietly with our eyes closed for a few minutes, legs crossed, hands on knees, focusing on our breath. 

Some kids use their hands to close their eyes. Some squint. Others wiggle. We begin with a few moments practice and by the end of the school year, we sit for 5 or more minutes.

After we practice, I whisper, "Where does your breath come from?" 

"In my nose," says Mason.

"It's from God," says Brennan.

"My breath comes from my mother's grandmothers," says Sophia.

"My breath comes from my heart," says Kate.

"And where does your heart come from," I ask.

"From love," she adds. 

Some parents say that their children show them how to practice breathing at home. 

During a test break for kindergarteners at Dublin Montessori Academy, school director Jill Roshon says the children close their eyes, put their hands on their knees, and breathe. They do this on their own, spontaneously.

Sitting meditation and breathing are helpful with stress and depression-based illnesses. Studies with children find that meditation can also affect what is called attention-deficit disorder in children. A summary of these findings can be found in this University of Wisconsin study and also on the Brooklyn College website.