Mindfulness is helpful practice for students and teachers, here's why you should use it in your classroom this year.
Mindfulness can get mixed up, or thrown in with yoga and things like sage and crystals, but it is more than that and it can be practiced at all ages.
So, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being present, being aware of what is going on around us and within us. Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to avoid feeling overwhelmed by our emotions or to overreacting in a situation, both things that students (and teachers) can benefit from in the classroom.
The key element of mindfulness is non judgmental observation, which is actually two parts. First it asks you notice or observe your thoughts and once you have done that, to not judge them. Mindfulness emphasizes that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
Key Skills Within Mindfulness
The three skills that can improve with practicing mindfulness are equanimity, concentration, and sensory clarity.
Equanimity which is the ability to encounter sensory experiences without suppressing them or avoiding the feeling. It also allows us to avoid over identifying with your feelings, events, or thoughts.
Concentration or focusing on what is important, despite distractions.
Sensory Clarity or the ability to understand and track what we are experiencing, allowing students to avoid being dysregulated by a strong emotion.
The Science Behind the Practice
There is a ton of research that supports the practice of mindfulness and it has a lot of benefits beyond helping regulate your mood. In fact, there are far too many to review here BUT let me give you at least a few notable points: it has been found to boost our immune system, increase gray matter in our brain, improve relationships, self esteem, and creativity to name a few.
I really love UCLA’s Greater Good Science Center, where you can find the research on these claims, plus tons of additional information they produce on the Science of Wellbeing. But because we are talking about the value it brings to schools, here’s what they say about that.
“Mindfulness helps schools: There’s scientific evidence that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems, aggression, and depression among students, and improves their happiness levels, self-regulation, and ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness also show lower blood pressure, less negative emotion and symptoms of depression, less distress and urgency, greater compassion and empathy, and more effective teaching.”
It is also important to note that the benefits indicated in research span all ages of education, meaning it isn't too early to begin using this in whatever classroom you are working in.
How to Start Practicing Mindfulness in You Classroom
While mindfulness can be taught to all ages of students, it can look different for different developmental groups. With that in mind, it makes the most sense to break up the tips and methods by age ranges, you can find those posts here:
Mindfulness for Pre K & Lower Elementary - coming soon
Mindfulness for Upper Elementary - coming soon
Mindfulness for Middle & Highschool - coming soon
Nothing on this blog should be taken as replacement for medical, clinical, or professional advice or intervention. All content is for educational purposes only.