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The Power of Presence
A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood

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The Power of Presence
A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood



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The early years are a magical time when curiosity and creativity blend into learning and discovery. And yet families and educators face unprecedented pressures to remove the very pillars that make children feel safe, joyful, confident, and competent.

The Power of Presence: A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood offers insight and information to help you transform your teaching by learning how to pause, notice your surroundings, and simply be. Learn ways to spark joy, elevate well-being, and promote a deeper sense of inquiry, both personally and with others—young and old. Learn ways to consciously plant seeds of mindfulness at home, in the classroom, and around the world. 


  • developing and fostering your own awareness,

  • cultivating a culture ofmindfulness and climate of joy in your classroom,

  • creating an inclusive classroom that accepts and encourages all children, and

  • ways to nurture and support equitable practices of justice, respect, and dignity.

A more peaceful, present learning environment will help children to reclaim their safe, joyful, confident, and competent approach to learning. The adults in the children’s lives, whether families or educators, will also thrive in this mindful approach with more patience, focus, and confidence. Together, they’ll be able to breathe in blue skies and reach new heights of learning.

Elizabeth Joy Erwin, EdD

Dr. Elizabeth Joy Erwin is a Professor of Education at Montclair State University where she prepares graduate and doctoral students to think critically, reflect deeply and teach inclusively. Elizabeth is...

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“The Power of Presence: A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood is a must read for every early childhood teacher and educator. Written with a thoughtful style and showcasing the latest research, theory and also the practical applications of mindfulness in the early years, this book is a fantastic resource whether you are starting out or a seasoned teacher. With many practical explanations and ideas of how we, as the adults supporting children, can be present and mindful, to activities young children will love, this book is a comprehensive guide to those wanting to learn more about the benefits of mindful learning to our youngest students. I especially love the many links to available stories and resources for both adults and children, the many real world examples, as well as the use of children’s voice throughout the book. A wonderful book for any preschool educator. ”

Dr. Helen Maffini
MindBE Education

“The Power of Presence by Dr. Elizabeth Joy Erwin "offers an in-depth inquiry into mindfulness practices and early childhood education framed within a social justice perspective." Dr. Erwin's work provides meaningful, timely and approachable insight into the rationale, applicability and implementation of mindfulness practices for the Early Childhood educator and caregiver. Background is given that details the usefulness and urgent necessity for employing these types of practices with young children. Readers will become aware of both socio-cultural and physiological reasons for the need and effectiveness of mindfulness practices. Particular emphasis is given to addressing the disparity of access observed across racial and socioeconomic lines to resources that promote young children's overall well-being. Care has clearly been taken to ensure contribution and perspectives of people from a wide array of backgrounds. Educators and caregivers will find a variety of resources in each chapter. In addition to exploration of history, research and anecdotal descriptions, each contains a "Caregivers' Corner," "Children's Corner" and "Take It To The Classroom" section, that provides varied and easily applicable resources. These resources can be useful to all practitioners, regardless of their length/depth of experience in the field, or with mindfulness inquiry. Classroom libraries will undoubtedly be enriched with the selections described in the Children's Corner. As an African-American long-time Early Childhood educator with a meditation practice of over a decade, I read this resource voraciously. I was inspired by the possibility of bringing these practices to the classroom, and by the experience of seeing my own efforts, victories and challenges validated by their reflection in the pages. I discovered insights and resources in The Power of Presence that will undoubtedly enhance my responsiveness and effectiveness in fostering peace and overall well-being in all of my young students, regardless of gender, language, ability, or any other characteristics. I recommend this book for both novel and experienced practitioners; there is wisdom and valuable information to assist us in providing a responsive and equitable environment for the youngest members of our communities. There are many puddles for splashing. Dr. Erwin’s work can help us to find joy in the rain.”

Nicole Waters
Mickey Fried Preschool, Congregation Oheb Shalom; Enrichment and Aftercare Specialist

“As the evidence has mounted about the benefits of mindfulness practices to support the learning and development of young children (e.g., increase in attention and focus, decrease in disruptive behavior), early childhood educators and leaders have sought resources that offer both solid grounding in evidence and practical ideas for everyday application. The Power of Presence: A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood is the best resource I’ve seen as it provides both. Each chapter offers new ideas to support mindfulness, teaching, and learning and offers resources targeted to the needs of children, caregivers, and educators. The author’s perspectives reflect a commitment to supporting each and every child, through examples that support inclusion and promote equity. Perhaps the most compelling feature of the book is how it made me feel while I was reading it. As I read each chapter I felt myself relax, my breathing deepen, and my interest grow. As someone who is familiar with mindfulness practices, I found useful new information on every page. The author has skillfully crafted a tapestry of evidence, examples, and options, made more cohesive by the lovely artwork and stories throughout. ”

Camille Catlett
Research Scientist, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina

“Mindfulness resources for children are proliferating, but The Power of Presence: A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood stands apart by challenging us to make the connection between mindful awareness and social justice. The benefits of mindfulness to see clearly and non-judgmentally, listen deeply, speak thoughtfully, act intentionally, reflect, and be kind are the tools we need to foster peace and equanimity in the classroom and in life. Dr. Erwin synthesizes decades of research, teaching, mindfulness practice, reflection, and curiosity. She deftly blends personal stories, teacher and child anecdotes, practices contributed by respected professionals, and focus questions to engage the reader on every page. Elizabeth writes as she speaks, with positive language, passion, joy, and optimism. The Power of Presence inspires us to consider our classrooms as fertile flowerbeds in which we can plant and nurture seeds of peace by practicing mindfulness together with our children. Let it rain.”

Susan Hendler Lederer, PhD
Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders, Adelphi University

“If you truly care about children and yourself, you will read this book. And you care about yourself. Children learn academics and life best on a stage of calm and the tools provided in this book along with proof of why they work…”

Debby Kaminsky
Yoga Instructor, Newark Yoga Movement

“The Power of Presence: A Guide to Mindfulness Practices in Early Childhood should be essential reading for anyone who has or works with young children and their families. Beyond translating emerging mindfulness research into everyday language, Dr. Erwin provides practical resources and strategies to check in with oneself. In doing so, she encourages us to be present, aware, and accountable for what we bring to each interaction, further enabling our conscious consideration of ourselves in relation to others – mindful, inclusive, equitable practice is simply not possible without this skill. The voices of children, parents, caregivers, and teachers embedded throughout illustrate the power of breath and contemplation in everyday moments. I could not agree more with Dr. Erwin on this point - “We cannot fully provide safety for young children if we are not tuned into the safety net that exists within us” – and recommend this book for those seeking to nourish joyfulness, confidence, and competence in all young children.”

Sarika S. Gupta, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Special Education, Hunter College CUNY

“The book is very well written and provides helpful information on how to put into practice mindfulness. ”

Naznin Dhanani
Early Childhood Advisor, Early Years Refugee Program