Practicing mindfulness has garnered immense popularity in the recent times and schools are trying to incorporate it in their daily teaching methods. Why is this becoming popular? Because it is easy to practice. Needs limited resources. Can be taught without incurring costs and it can be practiced by anyone. Before we talk about how to practice mindfulness in the school classroom, it is important to understand what mindfulness is in it's true sense.
What is Mindfulness?
1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
"their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
2. A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Why should we teach mindfulness in school?
In India, a study has found that the prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) among primary school children was 11.32%. The latest data show that far more Indian children suffer from ADHD than a decade ago. Practicing mindfulness and teaching children about its benefits at an early age will help in increasing focus and attention in class.
Did you know?
Children can concentrate on one task for two to five minutes per year old. If you are teaching a 6 year old, expect 12 to 30 minutes of attention only
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness in School
Practising mindfulness has plenty of benefits for a child's health and brain. Some of the benefits are, it
- Increases attention span
- Decreases hyperactivity
- Decreased stress/ anxiety
- Decreases sadness
- Increases endurance
- Decreases anger
- Decreases irritation
- Improves memory
- Improves focus
- Increases happiness
- Provides emotional balance
- Increases self belief
- Improves immunity
- Provides better sleep
How to practice Mindfulness?
1. Start with a routine: Breathe!
Teach kids to take few moments everyday to sit quietly and focus on their breath. This can be when the day starts, everyday at school.
- Find a cosy space and let kids sit with a comfortable distance
- Ask them to close their eyes
- Teach them to breathe normally - focussing on the in and out of the breath
- Play meditative music to help them focus and to reduce thoughts from wandering.
2. Prep them up:
Before you start teaching them, prep them about what they should expect from the class. This helps in setting intention and also help you in achieving the goal you have set for a particular class. Example, Today we are going to learn about flowers. The different shapes, colors and names.
This paints a picture in the child’s mind and help them focus or concentrate in your class.
3. Know the Impact of your surrounding:
A noisy environment is distracting and reduces the child’s focus drastically. They tend to turn away, look outside, trying to make sense of the sound or to understand it much better. If you could start the class by asking everyone to be silent for a minute, that helps increase focus too.
4. Bring in Elements to improves focus:
Mind Jars are one sure shot way to improve mindfulness in class. Add cardamom or orange slices to a jar and ask children to smell them with their eyes closed. Through sensory experiences, such as smell or touch, you will be able to bring them to the ‘present’ in the class and be there 100%
5. Let imagination take over:
Imaginary stories are another way to improve mindfulness in children. This unleashes a whole new set of creativity, helping the child visualize during your storytelling process. Bring in colors, textures, and as many variants as possible, helping them run wild with their imagination.
6. Exercise to be mindful:
Sports and exercise in general helps in increasing child’s mindfulness. It also helps them burn their pent up energy which otherwise can be used negatively - disobedience, tantrums etc in class.
7. Practicing gratitude at a young age:
For children and adults alive, practicing gratitude helps us to remind ourselves about the little things that matter. Make the kids sit in a circle and ask them to say what they are grateful for. You can start by practicing your gratitude to help them get a cue.
There are also plenty of books that will help you understand mindfulness and help children practice mindfulness in school.
Books that help your practice mindfulness in schools
- 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom
- The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-Being in Teachers and Students
- Mindful Teacher, Mindful School: Improving Wellbeing in Teaching and Learning
- Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education
- Everybody Present: Mindfulness in Education
- The Invisible Classroom: Relationships, Neuroscience, and Mindfulness at Work in School
- The Mindful School: Transforming School Culture Through Mindfulness and Compassion
- The Mindful Teacher
- Mindful Games Activity Cards: 55 Fun Ways to Share Mindfulness With Kids
- 10 Mindful Minutes
- The Mindful Child
- Mindfulness for Teachers
- The Power of Mindful Learning
- Building Emotional Intelligence
- A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions
- Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness: A Guide for Anyone who Teaches Anything
- Cultivating Mindfulness in the Classroom
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