Mindfulness in the Classroom
"Let’s sit up nice and tall with a long back, shoulders relaxed. Maybe close your eyes or keep them opened. Take a deep breath in through your nose as if you’re smelling a flower, breathe out fully through your mouth as if you’re blowing out birthday candles....”
In recent years local schools have begun bringing mindfulness techniques into the classroom to help students learn to focus, regulate their emotions and manage stress in a healthy way.
Mindfulness is simply “noticing what is happening right now.” Mindfulness is taking notice of how your body feels and what you see, smell and taste. Mindfulness is also noticing what your mind is doing and what is happening around you.
It may be difficult for students to sit quietly for a minute at a time when first introduced to mindfulness, but slowly the mindful activity time will lengthen.....just teach them to keep coming back to their breath which is self control through mindfulness. It’s a practice and it helps students focus, calm their minds and feel good.
Some teachers start each school day with a short guided meditation in the classroom. Below are some links to guided meditations:
There are meditation apps for kids or adult which feature kids guided meditation, like “Stop Breathe Think” and “Headspace” which are great tools for teachers or parents.
A breathing technique that can be easily used in the classroom is
“5 finger breath”: https://childhood101.com/take-5-breathing-exercise/
Many teachers prefer to sit with the students right after lunch or recess because it gives students time to refocus their attention and get back into their school day.
“Shake 8” is a great activity for the students to do next to their desk:
Ask everyone to stand. You’ll shake out each arm/ hand, leg/ foot, for the count of eight. Right hand “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”. Left hand “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”. Right foot “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”. Left foot “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”.
Then do it all again, but only up to 7.
Then do it all again, but only up to 6.
Keep going until you finish at “1” for each part.
On the last shake out, end with a big cheer.
Ask the kids how they feel.
After this activity have the kids take 5-8 deep breaths or have them use the “5 finger breath” to calm their bodies and calm minds will follow.
Five reasons why we at Budding Buddhas think there should be mindfulness in every classroom:
1. Reduces Stress
When a child is under stress, it's hard for them to focus. When you notice what's happening around you, you begin to focus more deeply, and can help you achieve at school, in sports, or music or whatever your interests are.
2. Increases Focus
When a child starts to close their eyes and bring their attention to their breath, they are literally training their attention. Your brain is like a muscle: the more you're training your attention, the stronger your attention becomes.
3. Increases Empathy
When a child starts to practice mindfulness, they develop more empathic emotions, which helps them communicate better with others. This improves their social and emotional skills which are vital to a happy healthy whole child.
4. Calms Children Down
It can help them calm down when they’re sad, angry or frustrated. When the mind is calm, the body follows. When a child is calm, he will focus better and be more optimistic.
5. It Makes You Happy
Mindfulness helps you deal with tough emotions, and mindfulness can make you happy and feel good. When a child is more optimistic, they will do better in every area of school, and life.
When asking teachers about the results most of them say it creates a calmness in the classroom. Students learn how to self-regulate they are get better at avoiding conflict, and avoiding situations that might cause them trouble. Once a child feels that they have tools for self regulation such as using a learned breathing technique they experience a ‘wow’ moment! The ultimate goal is self-awareness and self-regulation. A mindfulness practice increases optimism, focus, resiliency, and the over-all wellbeing for the students (and teachers!).
Has there been a Mindfulness Program at your child’s school this school year? Or has your child’s school been offering a lunch time and/ or after-school yoga program taught by certified kids yoga teachers? Hopefully the answer to at least one of those questions is “yes”!
If not...then bring Budding Buddhas to your child’s school!
Please check out Budding Buddhas’ website for more information about our Yoga and Mindfulness Programs at www.budding-buddhas.com. We always love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, remarks, feedback or would like to set up a day and time for a free demo at a school, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Susan Fried at (917) 282-7110.