5 mindfulness activities in the classroom
Mindfulness is about learning to train kids’ attention to the present moment so that they don’t worry about what has happened in the past or can happen in the future. Mindfulness activities for kids are known to provide several physical and psychological benefits.
What this really entails is that we’re asking you to get kids, be they 5 or 15, into a mental state whereby they focus calmly on the present moment, their feelings, thoughts, and body. Because that’s what mindfulness is.
Doesn’t sound doable, does it? How can we even consider getting the average kid into such a tranquil state? Kids can’t sit still long enough to be tranquil about anything! If they are sitting still, it’s only because they’re watching skateboarders crash into walls on Facebook.
Let’s face it, the closest most kids come to mindfulness is brooding or sulking; definitely not the same thing even if it does make them stop and sit and think for a while.
Of course, brooding and sulking aren’t the sort of mind exercises we’re looking for here; these mind exercises are, largely speaking, designed to eliminate the broods and sulks kids resort to when under stress.
Taking that one step further, mindfulness techniques are designed to relax minds in sensory overload, allowing them to recharge, blow out the stress and face the next classroom or schoolyard challenge.
Mindfulness can become your child’s inner minder
Imagine this before your own parental or scholarly mind shuts down to the possibilities – here’s the scenario.
Your child is rushing from math to history to chemistry to geography to French to English with five minutes to collect their thoughts and reset for another completely new hour-long bombardment of information. And they’ll do this about six times a day, five days a week.
Those five minutes are far from peaceful; it’s five minutes dominated by bells and darting from room to room and thoughts of detention if they’re late.
What we, as parents and teachers, can change is to protect kids from the stresses of school life. That means protecting young minds; relaxing them and recharging them.
Mindfulness does exactly that and, believe it or not, it works.
Here are five mindfulness activities to get your students more relaxed in the classroom.
One: Let your students stop and breathe
They’ve just rushed from the last class to your class, they have just got to their seats and you start the opening lines of your prepared monologue at them.
No, take five minutes and just ask your entire class to sit, take a deep breath and focus on their breathing. Deep inward breaths, hold for a couple of seconds and then out.
Ask them to listen to their breathing, really focus on it. In time they’ll stop seeing this as a giggle fest and realise they’re actually more relaxed.
Two: Let them sit and just listen
The birds outside, the wind, the rain on the roof, the echoes of chatter outside in the hall; let them sit really quietly and listen. They might laugh but let them – laughter is a major stress release as well.
Should we reward students for learning? Would it work in the long run? Find out in our blog post on the 'Effects of rewards on students.'
Three: Assign a timeout manager
As a teacher, you can get lost in the whole process of teaching and become a teensy bit unaware if your class is drifting off. So get one of your more switched on students to either stick a hand in the air or ring a bell if he or she notices a general disinterest or lethargy.
Everyone stands up, has a stretch, sits down and does more breathing as per our first tip. Then you carry on.
Four: Assign your own breaks
You know your class. You know their attention span. So don’t just tick the box of information delivered at the end of a lesson if you know they’ve all clocked off halfway through.
Stop when you know they’re not listening and give their minds a nice mindfulness break to recharge.
Five: Get them ready for the bell
You know when it’s going to ring to end your class, so watch the clock and stop your class five minutes before it does. Why? Because if you don’t, you’ll be shouting at your students with homework and assignment reminders as they race out the door to the next class and any mindfulness will be completely undone as they arrive at their next class wound up and wired wrecks.
Plan your class to end five minutes before the bell and, again, ask your students to close their eyes and focus on their breathing. Also ask them to just quietly think about what they learned, what they feel they achieved and how they can make this work in their homework.
Get a qualified Teacher’s Aide
The best way to ensure all students get the mindfulness attention they need is with the help of a Teacher’s Aide, a teacher’s able assistant.