Institute of HeartMath® Introduces New HeartSmarts™ Program that Helps Build Social and Emotional Intelligence for Young Students

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The Institute of HeartMath®, a leading research and education organization in Boulder Creek, Calif., recently released a new supplemental learning program called HeartSmarts™ to help students get their hearts and brains focused on learning.

I learned that I don’t have to get mad all the time and have my family upset with me

Most educators would agree students today are distracted from learning by what they’re bringing with them to school. It’s not their iPods, cell phones or video games, but rather a preoccupation with unresolved emotional issues that is sabotaging many students’ ability to learn.

Whether it’s stress from family issues or peer pressures, or feeling overwhelmed with life in general, this kind of pressure increases students’ resistance to test-taking and learning and stifles their care to learn.

This has created an even greater challenge for teachers trying to bridge academic and emotional learning. Research has shown a direct link between a student’s ability to self-manage emotions and academic performance.

The Institute of HeartMath®, a leading research and education organization in Boulder Creek, Calif., recently released a new supplemental learning program called HeartSmarts™ to help students get their hearts and brains focused on learning.

HeartSmarts is a social and emotional intelligence program for grades 3-5 that is based on HeartMath’s many years of research into the physiology of learning.

The HeartSmarts program, designed for classroom use, helps students transform stress, improve learning and strengthen relationships. Students learn about their emotional physiology, how to identify their emotions and how different emotions affect them, their schoolwork and others.

They also learn easy-to-use, heart-focused tools to shift out of undesired emotions such as frustration, anxiety, and anger, all of which impede their ability to learn and connect with others, and into beneficial emotions like appreciation and care, which facilitate learning and social connectedness.

Researchers at HeartMath have identified a measurable physiological state that underlies optimal learning and performance. Our emotions are calm and the heart, brain and nervous system function with increased harmony in this state. We are highly in sync physically, mentally and emotionally.

Contrast that with unresolved emotional turbulence, which can throw us out of sync and lead to frustration and poor decisions and test scores, HeartMath researchers say.

"In recent studies we've shown that shifting from a turbulent state to a more positive emotional state can facilitate the higher cognitive processes that are critical for focusing attention, reasoning and creativity," said Dr. Rollin McCraty, director of research at the Institute of HeartMath.

HeartMath researchers say these higher cognitive processes also are essential for effective learning, academic achievement and social success.

Evelyn Bradley, a fifth-grade teacher in Pittsburg, Calif., gave HeartSmarts high marks.

"As I began to make it part of our daily routine to get in sync for learning, it made both teaching and learning easier," Bradley said. "I see my students feeling excited about their new ability to feel better quickly when they get upset and calm themselves in stressful situations, instead of just reacting. I also noticed that my students are kinder to each other."

With short daily practices, the HeartSmarts tools become "habits of the heart" for students and can save many hours each week that would otherwise be spent dealing with learning and behavioral problems. The program covers an array of topics to help students grow mentally, emotionally and socially, including Exploring Emotions, Getting in Sync for Learning and Becoming Your Best Self.

One of the skills taught in the HeartSmarts program is how to get in sync for learning by shifting from feelings of anxiety, stress or anger to a more neutral, heart-focused state.

"I learned that I don’t have to get mad all the time and have my family upset with me," said Eddie, a fifth-grade student.

HeartSmarts also was designed with the busy teacher in mind. The program can be easily integrated into math, science and English curricula. It includes a comprehensive Leader’s Guide, visually dynamic slides to convey the main points to students, booklets with follow-up activities and supplemental resources, and large, colorful posters to hang in the classroom to remind students of the core concepts. The program includes assessment tools, instructional aids and the optional emWave® PC Stress Relief System.

The emWave PC software program provides real-time feedback on a student’s emotional state by reading his or her heart rate variability (HRV) through a finger or earlobe sensor. When students regularly practice the fun, interactive games included in the emWave PC program, they learn to deal more effectively with stress and anxiety, improve academic performance and get along better with their peers, teachers and parents.

Research shows that students who participate in social and emotional learning programs such as HeartSmarts experience the following:

  •     improved reading comprehension, math, literacy and social studies skills
  •     higher test scores and grades
  •     greater problem-solving ability
  •     more class participation
  •     less aggressive and disruptive behavior
  •     lower probability of dropping out of school
  •     improved attendance
  •     increased academic motivation
  •     enhanced ability to cope with school stressors    

HeartMath is offering a special introductory price now through Dec. 31 for the HeartSmarts program. HeartMath also offers other programs for elementary, middle and high school students. For more information about HeartMath and its research, programs, products and services, go to http://www.heartmath.org.

Media Contact:
Gabriella Boehmer
(831) 338-8710

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