Teachers Share how to Bring Mindfulness Practices to the Classroom
Mindfulness in our adult lives is a beautiful thing. It helps us center ourselves and honor others. It’s something that I practice every day, so it made me think… what if these techniques were taught to my generation at an earlier age and instilled in us through our education? Would we have had less painful lessons? Would we have come to know ourselves at our cores quicker? Would it have aided in making the world less volatile? I think back to my experience of k-12 and how often we as children would get down on ourselves, bully each other, and get emotionally overwhelmed with school life and/or home life. More often than not, as far as I can remember, we weren’t met with compassion or empathy. We were very much dismissed and invalidated. Sent out of the classroom. Phone calls home. No adult was ever like “let’s center ourselves, breathe, and talk it out.” I don’t blame the teachers for anything. It was a different time and I am fully aware of how difficult it can be interacting with little people. But, we have the opportunity and the knowledge now to bring our children into awareness earlier in their lives. With the upcoming 2020 school year, I think this is more important than ever.
According to the Oxford dictionary, mindfulness is:
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
- a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Initially, I put out a blast to k-12 educators who may teach mindfulness techniques, but I know that my cousin, a pre-school teacher, has been doing this with her little ones, so I asked her for her input as well! Here’s what she had to say:
“My name is Jennifer and I teach in Clark, NJ. I started my own journey of yoga and mindfulness to help myself through many different, stressful, and difficult times in my life. It was eye opening, amazing and life transforming all in one. It has helped me see life in the ‘here and now’ and not worry as much of what may be coming next. I’ve been teaching preschool for over 17 years now and I thought to myself if this helps me so much what can it do for some of the struggling littles I’m with daily. But then again, let’s be real, it’s hard to get a 3-4 year old to sit still for more than 5 minutes even if they are doing something they enjoy let alone sitting quietly. We started simple with a class art project where we each made a zen jar to help the children when they were feeling a bit overwhelmed. They could shake their jar and just watch it for a minute or two. Then one day I asked them to come sit in a circle with me. I put on some calming music and read them a short story, asking them just to breathe. It was amazing to see the joy and excitement in their eyes. Parents came to me saying the kids were sitting at home breathing like Ms. Jen. I truly believe that mindfulness for children works amazingly. Anytime I see one of them struggling or have a hard time during the day, we all as a class, take a moment to just breathe. The children even ask while doing class work to have the calming music in the background! I feel that during these trying times mindfulness can help everyone and let’s be honest, if I can get a 4 year old to do it so can you! And who doesn’t have just one minute to take the time to breathe and to come back to themselves.”
Here are some resources, tools, and ideas for the younger tiny humans.
You may not be making zen jars with older students, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a practice for older age ranges. Here are some resources and ideas I found for older students.
If you’re an educator who practices mindfulness with their students and would like to share your advice, please reach out! I’d like to keep this post updated with as many opinions and views as possible so it becomes a resource for others.
To all of my friends that are teachers and to teachers all over the globe… I hope you know that you are the real super heroes of this world. Please have a happy, healthy school year!
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