Integrating 'mindfulness' into our classroom and home
The practice of mindfulness has taken various forms over the course of history but its origins can be traced on the teachings of Buddha . Mindfulness also has another very common name - meditation. Guided meditation for kids and adults have proven effective in improving their performance in many aspects of their lives.
Simply said - Mindfulness means “being present”. As per the Greater Good Magazine, Mindfulness is creating and sustaining a “moment – by – moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, surrounding environment.”
So how can Mindfulness be integrated in your curriculum?
Mindfulness must be a part of every class’ curriculum as it teaches us to live in the present moment, and enjoy and experience what’s in front of us rather than focus on the past or the future.
Here are a few suggestions from various experts in education to help you integrate mindfulness in your classroom:
1. Provide teachers with mindfulness-based training as part of their personal and professional growth. A ‘mindful’ and happy teacher will enable a happy classroom that will promote overall learning and development.
2. Introduce and expound the mindfulness concept to teachers gradually and consistently. This method is proven more effective compared to the one time intense workshop which schools usually conduct that limits the opportunity for teachers and learners to fully comprehend the new concepts being introduced.
3. Include mindfulness-themed activities in the curriculum. Do consider the appropriateness of the activity to the age of the learners.
4. Introduce breathing exercises to promote mindfulness. When we are stressed or anxious, we often take shallow breaths into our chests. By breathing deeply into your belly, you can use your breath to calm both your body and mind. Try breathing exercises yourself first and then teach it to your students. Students can pretend to inflate a balloon in their bellies, or you could use a Hoberman Sphere for a visual representation of the breath. (Check this video).
A few more ideas on using breathing exercises for mindfulness can be found here
5. Using movement to promote mindfulness - Movement is an essential part of our life that we have made more and more ‘rare’ in our lifestyle. introducing movement or yoga in your regular lessons can be fun and liberating at the same time. For e.g. while studying animals, you can teach children effective yoga poses such as cat pose or downward dog pose and sun salutation. The children can do poses on their chairs, in a gym or outside. Just make them fun and relevant to their lessons.
6. Using guided pretend activities to promote mindfulness - Children love to do pretend play. Now you can integrate this into your lessons by asking them to close their eyes and imagine what they just learnt. For example, if you are studying the ocean, have students close their eyes, and then imagine getting into underwater vehicles and cruising through the ocean waters. Now ask them to look for fish, animals, and plants. End the guided relaxation with a few deep breaths, and then they can draw what they imagined and discuss their ideas as a class. This will not only help their imaginative thinking but also teach them a powerful technique to relax and re-energize.
7. Using music to promote mindfulness - Music helps children relax and calm down. Try listening to relaxing music or other calming sounds in the classroom. You might also take the children outside to hear the sounds of nature like a creek, rain, etc.
8. Do not limit the activities to indoors, especially for children. Outdoor activities such as walking barefoot, sensory exercises, and others are all highly recommended as well.
9. Simple activities done properly and frequently yield results. Consistency is the key.
If you want to see something specific, do let us know here and we will get the most meaningful advise and tips for you.