If you want to teach Mindfulness in the classroom, you should consider starting with the basics. Students of all ages can benefit from this practice. You can teach it to students in kindergarten through college. You can also use it in continuing education courses for professionals. You can introduce this approach to students at any age level. Just remember to tailor the exercises to the needs of your students. Here are some tips for starting with Mindfulness in the classroom.
Educators understand that children learn best when relaxed, comfortable, and safe. Imagine if, in addition to providing our children with the tools to become kind and productive adults, we could also provide them with the gift of Mindfulness: the ability to use their breath and mind to live a happy and healthy life. Teachers will also benefit from Mindfulness because we all know that a happy teacher leads to a happy classroom.
1. Here Are Four Ideas for Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Classroom and Bringing Peace to Your Students
We commonly take short breaths into our chests when stressed or anxious. However, you can utilize your breath to soothe your body and mind by breathing deeply into your abdomen. Place your right hand on your abdomen and your left hand on your chest to practice mindful breathing. Feel the smooth rise and fall of your breath. As you inhale, count to three, then count to three again as you exhale. If it’s more comfortable for you, close your eyes as well.
Try mindful breathing on your own first, then with your students. For example, they can pretend to fill a balloon in their stomachs, or a Doberman Sphere can be used to visualize the breath. You can use this primary breathing method to help with transitions, test preparation, and stressful circumstances throughout the school day.
Sensory Experiences Can Help You Be More Mindful
Sensory experiences also assist children in concentrating and relaxing. In the classroom, listen to peaceful music or other calming sounds. You might also take the kids outside to listen to nature’s sounds. They may play mind jars or play I, Spy.
This exercise entails placing items in jars with concrete and familiar aromas (such as cinnamon, flowers, cheese, or popcorn) and having the children guess the items using their sense of smell. Next, close your children’s eyes, hand each one a cotton ball or sponge, and have them guess what they’re holding to focus on their sense of touch. Sensory tables with water, sand, ice, or other thematic elements are fantastic.
Guided Imagery for Mindfulness
Children’s imaginations are developed through guided imagery. It also aids in the integration of new information with prior knowledge. When you introduce a new topic in your classroom, ask your students to close their eyes (if they’re comfortable doing so) and take them on a pretend journey.
Through Movement, Mindfulness
Humans are born with the desire to move. Our forefathers spent their days either fleeing predators or hunting for food. Movement is a natural aspect of human life that has recently become a luxury. Your pupils will access their natural learning style by incorporating movement into your classroom. Yoga is an effortless manner of incorporating workouts into your educational day. Children can develop self-expression and self-confidence by imitating their surroundings. They can do yoga in their seats, at the gym, or in the open air.
2. Mindfulness’s Advantages
Mindfulness meditation can positively impact our physical, mental, and psychological health.
Various studies have found that practicing Mindfulness daily can improve our mood, minimize distractions, improve attention, increase positive emotions, reduce anxiety, and assist people in reducing stress. In addition, Mindfulness has also been shown to treat eating disorders and substance misuse effectively.
In this study, the American Heart Association found sufficient evidence to suggest that Mindfulness can be an additional tool to treat and prevent coronary artery disease. In addition, Mindfulness may help alleviate or prevent cognitive decline due to its beneficial strengthening effect on memory, attention, and brain functioning, according to research.
Mindfulness programs can help children manage school-related stress and make them more available for learning. Still, they are not a replacement for complete SEL and character development interventions and positive changes in school climate.
Consider complementing mindfulness interventions with activities that help kids enhance their emotion vocabulary and recognition skills, as well as their problem-solving abilities.
Adult mindfulness activities in classrooms are not a panacea. However, educators must be aware that Mindfulness may inadvertently and quietly encourage complacency or divert attention from altering conditions in schools that should be deemed unacceptable working conditions for them and ineffective learning environments for their kids.
3. There Are Two Ways in Which Mindfulness Can be Practiced
The Formal Method
Meditation is the “official” approach to practicing Mindfulness:
- Sitting in a comfortable and upright posture
- Paying attention to the breath
- Recognizing sensations in the body
- Examining thoughts and emotions that arise naturally
Because this is impossible, the purpose of mindfulness meditation is not to “leave the mind blank.” Instead, the idea is to notice your reactions, let them go, and then gently return your attention to your breathing.
The Informal Method
There is also an “informal” method of practicing Mindfulness, which involves devoting some time to seated meditation, body-scanning, or mindful activities.
This “informal” method focuses on bringing awareness to ordinary tasks like eating or brushing one’s teeth and external objects or situations.
There are other attitudes associated with Mindfulness, such as being nonjudgmental and allowing for self-compassion and the so-called Beginner’s mind, which are, in my opinion, the most significant, especially at the start of practice.
4. How SEL and Mindfulness Can Complement Each Other?
It can be challenging to know where to begin if you’re a teacher who wants to improve your pupils’ social and emotional health. What kind of social-emotional learning (SEL) program should you enroll in? Is it better to concentrate on Mindfulness? Perhaps you’ve heard fantastic things about both, and don’t they both do the same thing in the end?
The perplexity is understandable, considering that research in both domains suggests that pupils benefit from enhanced academic achievement and well-being, reduced hazardous behavior, and improved connections with classmates and instructors.
But how can they be brought together? The answer is that one approaches things from the outside in, while the other approaches things from the inside out. When the two collide in a student’s thinking, the result can be devastating.
5. What Is the Difference Between Self-Empowerment SEL and Mindfulness?
To begin, SEL takes an outside-in approach to teach skills, with a focus on recognizing emotions and using “I” messages:
- A teacher introduces skills such as recognizing emotions or using “I” messages.
- Learners rehearse it for a set portion of the term.
- The teacher moves on to the next skill.
- This procedure, according to SEL, is sufficient for students to use the skill in all relevant, real-life circumstances.
On the other hand, Mindfulness works from the inside out, based on the assumption that everyone has a natural ability for relationship-building qualities like empathy and kindness, which research now backs up.
On the other hand, SEL and Mindfulness are both constrained in their ways. For example, when pupils are furious, telling them to utilize an “I” message does not guarantee that they will do so. Furthermore, just because someone practices Mindfulness does not imply that they can resolve problems.
6. Incorporating SEL and Mindfulness
When SEL and Mindfulness are combined, the five SEL skills described by CASEL have a better chance of growing and eventually being embodied by students and adults. Consider the following scenario:
SEL is the first competency. The mindfulness techniques are focused on awareness and self-increase students’ consciousness.
Self-management is the second competency. Students’ emotion management skills improve due to Mindfulness, which improves their ability to settle conflict more creatively or express themselves in an emotionally balanced manner.
Social awareness is the third competency. When pupils are confronted with a challenging scenario, Mindfulness helps them regulate their emotions rather than becoming emotionally overwhelmed. As a result, their ability to perceive and respond to another person’s pain improves.
- Relationship skills Compassion is enhanced by Mindfulness. As a result, when students practice SEL skills like finding a win-win solution with someone who challenges them, they do so with a greater sense of compassion and understanding.
- Decision-making is the fifth competency. Mindfulness improves cognitive flexibility and creativity, allowing kids to respond more creatively to difficult situations.
- Incorporating regular mindfulness practice into your classroom’s curriculum is an excellent strategy to improve social and emotional learning. It helps children develop life confidence and promotes a conducive learning environment in the classroom. Above all, students’ advantages from practicing Mindfulness will last both inside and outside the classroom.
7. Why Is Mindfulness Beneficial to Social, Emotional, and Academic Development?
Teaching social-emotional skills are one of the most acceptable methods to prepare your pupils for a successful school career. Mindfulness exercises are effortless and delightful for everyone to create these capabilities, from young toddlers to aging scholars. Mindfulness, which originates in Eastern enchantment and psychological analysis, has been established to alter our brains in practices that guide improved grades and coping skills.
However, the advantages of Mindfulness in schools extend to instructors as well. Teachers who are stressed typically feel overwhelmed and unproductive in the classroom. On the other hand, teachers can learn emotional regulation skills that will affect the way they approach their professions and connect with their pupils by practicing Mindfulness. Mindfulness improves their psychological wellness as well as their teaching environment.
The amount of grey matter in your brain can also be affected by Mindfulness. Mindful activities, for example, increase grey matter density in the hippocampus, which can improve memory, compassion, introspection, and self-awareness. These activities can also lower the quantity of brain matter in your amygdala, lowering stress and anxiety levels. Mindful practices improve your brain’s ability to develop positive coping skills and reduce the intensity and frequency of negative feelings.
Mindfulness for students can yield encouraging outcomes even in modest doses. For example, Mindfulness practiced for half an hour or less each day for eight weeks can result in noticeable cognitive changes. While most brain imaging studies involve adult patients, experts feel the results benefit people of all ages. According to neuroscience, Mindfulness is not just one of the most popular anxiety-relieving tactics for elementary pupils, but it is also the most effective.
Students can benefit from Mindfulness in various ways, including academic and social-emotional advantages. Students who get mindfulness training in class perform better on tests and receive better grades than their peers. Their focus, social skills, self-esteem, and capacity to regulate their emotions increase as they engage in more attentive activities. Furthermore, kids who practice Mindfulness have better sleep habits and are better prepared for their day both inside and outside the classroom.
Mindfulness in the classroom also aids in the reduction of harmful or disruptive behavior. Students who undergo mindfulness training, for example, tend to have lower stress levels and lower rates of anxiety and despair. They’re also less likely to be tired at school because of their improved attitude and sleeping habits. Similarly, academies that employ mindfulness activity have lowered bullying momenta.
Mindfulness classes are also an excellent method to reach out to students with impairments. After undergoing mindfulness training, children with learning difficulties, notably attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), had higher grades and fewer occurrences of emotional disruption than those who did not. In addition, Mindfulness can assist children with special needs gain social-emotional skills to connect with their classmates. Educators can provide every student with the tools to succeed in a class by employing mindfulness practices.