Practicing mindfulness with young kids might seem impossible but it is a skill that can be fostered starting at an early age.
First, let's just start with some basic tips for any teacher using mindfulness in their classroom.
Make Mindfulness a Scheduled Habit: Practicing daily, at the same time, will allow students to get in the habit of the practice. They will expect the activity and maybe even look forward to it.
Use it to Your Benefit: Have an especially active class in the mornings? Is it hard to get kids to calm down after recess? This is a great time to integrate the practice in your classroom and can be done in just a few minutes.
Tell Students Why: Research supports the idea that when students are informed on the meaningfulness of a topic chosen by the teacher, they are more motivated to learn and more likely to engage. Here is a list of really great reasons why, just in case you need to refer back to them.
Involve the Students: Can you use your students in anyway to help with the practice? This will give them the opportunity to lead the mindfulness time and will help you keep the routine up because
Introducing Mindfulness to Your Class
Figuring out how to explain what mindfulness is to kindergarteners might seem like a challenge but there are some great videos that do all of the hard work for you, here are a few examples.
Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Students should lay on the floor, with their eyes closed or looking towards the ceiling.
Encourage students to pay attention to their feet for 5 or 10 seconds. Then move up their body until the you get to the head, pausing on each body part for 5 or 10 seconds to ask the following questions. Questions to ask during a body scan: – How does this body part feel? – Is it cold or warm? – Does it feel tight or relaxed? – Is all or part of that body part touching the floor?
The questions should bring the student's awareness to their body in the moment.
You can also ask students to squeeze and release that body part rather than asking the questions about it..
Students can stand or sit for this activity.
Begin by asking them to put both hands on their stomachs. Then ask them to close their eyes or look at their hands.
Once they are ready, you can instruct them to take three slow deep breaths in and out. Encourage them to pay attention to their hands being moved up and down with the breaths.
You can count “1, 2, 3” for each breath in and “1, 2, 3” for each breath out, pausing slightly at the end of each.
Encourage students to answer the following questions silently, in their minds. – Are your hand moving? – Can you feel the air moving in through/out your nose? – Can you hear your breath? – What does it sound like?
Following the first time you do this activity, you can have a discussion with your students about their experience and have them answer the questions with the group.
Use the mindful breathing exercise above but rather than using their hands, use a pinwheel to show their breath.
This is an easy way to start a class or end a section of class, as it is quick and effective. You can also have different students ring the bell in a rotation.
Give the following instructions before ringing the bell: – When I ring the bell concentrate on the sound that you hear. – Paying attention to if you hear it louder in one ear than you do in the other. – Make sure to keep your eyes closed until you cannot hear the sound anymore. – If you notice your thoughts becoming distracted, return to the sound of the rind. – After the sound goes away and you open your eyes, remain silent until you hear my voice.
Instruct the students to close their eyes and to take 3 deep breaths before ringing the bell.
The activity is finished when the sound has completely dissipated.
Ask your students to take 3 deep breaths, then ask them to answer the following questions in their heads.
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Have other practices that work for your students? Any that did work so great and that want to warn others about? Leave them below in the comments!
Nothing on this blog should be taken as replacement for medical, clinical, or professional advice or intervention. All content is for educational purposes only.