Posted on August 09 2016
Educators know how hard it is to find enough time to teach the core subjects, let alone anything else. However, weaving mindfulness into your daily schedule can actually teach children the strategies they need to stay focused and regulate their emotions so they become more productive and better classroom citizens.
Following are simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily schedule.
- Introduce the importance of breath
Noticing the breath is not only a great way to calm down and refocus, but we can also use our breath to recharge and become more energized. Calming breathing activities can be done at the beginning of the day, before a lesson or after a transition to help center kids, so they are ready for learning and bring them into the present moment. An easy calming activity can be done with children sitting on the floor or in their seats. Encourage them to place one hand on their belly and the other on their chest, with eyes closed or their gaze slightly downward. Guide them through noticing the gentle rise and fall of their breath. Count to three on their inhale, then count to three on their exhale. An energizing breath activity can be done when a lesson has run long or your students are looking sluggish. A great energizing breath activity is often called Bunny Breathing. Again, students can do this in a seated position in their chair or on the floor. Instruct them to take three quick inhales through their nose then one big exhale out of their mouth. Repeat three or four times.
- Take a mindful movement break
Invite your students to get up and get moving to increase blood flow and wake up the central nervous system. Some ideas could include a full body stretch either standing or lying down, chair twists or down dog. If your class needs more movement, running in place or taking a stroll around the school or classroom will help students get back into the learning mode. You could also place yoga pose cards out in your classroom so when students feel they need a movement break, they can self-initiate and do them when they feel necessary.
- Use gratitude journals
Use gratitude journals as a way to reflect by allowing a few minutes at the end of the school day for them to notice all the wonderful things their life has to offer. These need not be shared, but encourage them to write or draw things that can’t be purchased. For example, perhaps they can be grateful for making a new friend, or for the sunny day so they could play outside at recess.
- Practice mindfulness by using the five senses.
Exploring the world around us with our five senses is a wonderful way to be mindful. If you are able, take a mindful walk outside where all five senses can be used. Encourage your students to see the beauty of the world by really noticing what is out there. Listen to the sounds of the outdoors (even if it’s traffic or other loud sounds). Encourage your kids to stop and notice something they’ve never really seen before. Take a large inhale, what do they smell? What does a rock or a tree really feel like? If an outside walk is not feasible, this can also be done indoors by listening to the sounds around them or practice mindful tasting when having a classroom snack. Sensory tables or sensory areas in your classroom are also great ways to explore the world around them. Even older students enjoy these! Provide objects of different textures or jars that hold different scents. You could also add headphones and I Pads where children can experience soothing music or guided imagery.
Laura Zimmer- Author/Creator of The Beginner's Mind Mindfulness Teaching Toolkit - A mindfulness curriculum for elementary children.
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