There is a multitude of benefits that come from mindfulness including but not limited to better concentration, less distraction and building self-awareness. Introducing this practice that was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn into our classrooms has the potential to support education, mental health, physical health and wellbeing. Here are some starting points to bring this into the classroom:
Build the practice into the curriculum.
There are many exercises especially practical lessons that enable the classroom to practice the art of mindfulness each day. A quiet reading session, tactical mindfulness and feeling the breath when the teacher is directing a lesson allows this practice to manifest within the curriculum.
The more you see these opportunities arise the more mindful your teaching.
Encourage random acts of kindness
Pay it forward. The idea of being kind to people around you without expecting it in return is fundamental to happiness. When we can teach this idea to children, they really enjoy seeing the benefit of being kind to each other.
We all need to have an ethos of supporting each other instead of bringing each other down or comparing ourselves to others. It is part of the human experience and within our nature to nurture.
It needs to begin with the teacher
As the leader and role model for your class, it must begin with you! You have the power to build a classroom that is self-aware, that is aware of others and knows the importance of taking charge of their day.
Mindfulness is about self-awareness, knowing what is in your control and what is not and learning to be okay with that. To enjoy each moment and that the present is all we have.
A great movie clip to support this is Kung Fu Panda and Yoda from The Last Jedi.
Begin with a mindful moment
At the beginning of the day, invite the children to close their eyes (if they would like too), take a mindful moment and feel their breathing without forcing the breath.
What does it feel like to breathe in and out? Can you notice your thoughts? This will create a sense of calm before the busy day begins.
This is a short video to support you:
Practice mindful listening
This is one of the simplest ways to introduce mindfulness to your class. Not all children can focus on the breath and some prefer to concentrate on something more “concrete”
End with a mindful moment
At the end of the lesson, take moments to close the eyes and focus on the breath. Ask the class to think about what they have learnt and what they have accomplished, perhaps how they have helped make someone else’s day better. This has been shown to have a positive impact on the classroom and the atmosphere.
It is imperative that alternative methods are pursued to provide a holistic education experience. Mindfulness has opened the education field to an alternative that is certainly worth exploring!