Susan Kaiser Greenland
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Susan Kaiser Greenland, JD (born 1956) is an American author and teacher of Mindful Awareness, a blending of East Asian meditation techniques thought to develop overall attentiveness and social/emotional skills while encouraging secular values.
Kaiser Greenland has played an important role in helping integrate Mindfulness techniques in American schools as well as throughout the world. She co-founded The InnerKids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2001, which taught Mindful Awareness in schools and community based programs in the greater Los Angeles area until 2009. Her innovative work with children courted the attention of psychologists at UCLA studying the effects of meditation on children. She is also the author of the book The Mindful Child published by Free Press in May, 2010.
Susan Kaiser Greenland was born in Paw Paw, Michigan in 1956. She attended Paw Paw High School and Kalamazoo College and then graduated cum laude from Brooklyn Law School. She started her career as a corporate lawyer in New York City, but in 1993 a family crisis occurred which prompted her to seek alternative methods of reducing stress.
As a result, she began studying classical mindful awareness and in 2000 adapted these adult practices into a program appropriate for young children. In 2001, she created the Inner Kids program, a hybrid of classical mindful awareness practices incorporating meditative techniques, games, and lessons taught in a non-religious form. The success of the program's use in several schools encouraged Kaiser Greenland to continue teaching the program to children, teens, and adults throughout the world.
Kaiser Greenland lives in Los Angeles with her husband Seth Greenland and their two children. She also serves on the Garrison Institute for Contemplation and Education Leadership Council, as an advisor at the UCLA Family Commons and frequently contributes to the online news periodical, The Huffington Post.
The InnerKids Foundation
In 2001, Kaiser Greenland and her husband founded The InnerKids Foundation, a not-for-profit organization teaching secular mindful awareness in schools and community based programs in the greater Los Angeles area between 2000-2009. The work of the Inner Kids Foundation has been featured in pieces by a number of news organizations and magazines including Greater Good Magazine, the New York Times, the LA Times, USA Today, Time Magazine for Kids, and Profiles in Caring.
The InnerKids Program
Kaiser Greenland developed the Inner Kids mindful awareness program for pre-k through elementary age children. The Inner Kids (IK) program uses games, activities and instruction to help kids' develop awareness and understanding of their emotions and environment in order to reduce stress.
The IK program has been greatly influenced and shaped by the work of the following authors: Drs. Jon Kabat-Zinn (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction); Suzi Tortora (Dance Movement Therapy for Young Children); Jeffrey Schwartz (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder); Daniel J. Siegel(Attachment/Attunement Theory); B. Alan Wallace (Cultivating Emotional Balance) as well as the Ojai Foundation Council Program.
The program was taught in one or more classrooms in LA schools, every year, between 2000 and 2009 through the Inner Kids Foundation. In December 2009 it was adapted in Singapore and taught to children ages 8 – 12 in an Inner Kids sleep-away camp. It was also adapted for a mindful eating study at UC-SF in connection with an MB-EAT clinical intervention for overweight children and a caregiver.
The Mindful Child
Kaiser Greenland's book, “The Mindful Child,” about teaching mindful awareness to children was published by Free Press in May, 2010. Based on the Inner Kids program that was researched by the Mindful Awareness Research Center of UCLA, the Mindful Child contains practical, age-appropriate mindful awareness games and activities for children, teens and their families.
A school-based Inner Kids program was evaluated in a randomized control study of 64 second- and third-grade children ages 7–9 years. The program was delivered for 30 minutes, twice per week, for 8 weeks. Teachers and parents completed questionnaires assessing children’s executive function immediately before and following the 8-week period. Multivariate analysis of covariance on teacher and parent reports of executive function (EF) indicated an interaction effect baseline EF score and group status on posttest EF. That is, children in the group that received mindful awareness training who were less well regulated showed greater improvement in EF compared with controls. Specifically, those children starting out with poor EF who went through the mindful awareness training showed gains in behavioral regulation, metacognition, and overall global executive control. These results indicate a stronger effect of mindful awareness training on children with executive function difficulties.
The finding that both teachers and parents reported changes suggests that improvements in children’s behavioral regulation generalized across settings. Future work is warranted using neurocognitive tasks of executive functions, behavioral observation, and multiple classroom samples to replicate and extend these preliminary findings.
- Flook, Lisa, Smalley, Susan L., Kitil, M. Jennifer, Galla, Brian M., Kaiser-Greenland, Susan, Locke, Jill, Ishijima, Eric and Kasari, Connie(2010) 'Effects of Mindful Awareness Practices on Executive Functions in Elementary School Children', Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26: 1, 70 — 95.