What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a technique or practice of being aware of each moment and creating a relaxed state of mind. When applied in schools, mindfulness can increase children’s self-confidence and performance in class.
The goal is to become more aware of thoughts and feelings. You do this in a non-judgmental way, so instead of being overwhelmed, you’ll be able to manage them better. The technique also involves breathing exercises commonly used in meditation or yoga. If this sounds vague to you, read this article to gain a better understanding of mindfulness.
Benefits of Mindfulness Training
At first, mindfulness may not make sense. But in the past 20 years, studies have shown that mindfulness can be beneficial in a range of settings, and can be used to reduce stress, fight depression, and manage pain.
The majority of studies on mindfulness have been done on adults, but in recent years, researchers have begun to explore how it can affect teenagers and children. The results suggest that mindfulness training is feasible and beneficial for children across a wide range of ages.
The following are the beneficial effects of mindfulness training:
• Calming – Mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety, and distress. It also improves reaction to stressful situations.
• Attention – Studies show that mindfulness leads to improved attention and better performance on objective tasks.
• Emotion regulation – Mindfulness is associated with better control of emotions and ability to engage in tasks even if emotions are activated.
• Compassion – People who practice mindfulness have a greater capacity for compassion and are more likely to help others.
Mindfulness in Teachers
When teachers practice mindfulness, they get benefits such as reduced stress levels and less incidence of burnout. Based on independent observations, educators who learned mindfulness reported improved effectiveness in doing their jobs. Also, they became better at classroom management and had more emotionally supportive classrooms.
Mindfulness in Students
Learning mindfulness can benefit children in the form of improved well-being, social and emotional skills, and better cognitive outcomes. These can lead to long-term benefits later in life such as increased success in education and employment and reduced likelihood of vices or mental health issues in adulthood.
How to Teach Mindfulness in Schools
Introduce mindful moments in the classroom – These sessions can take 5 minutes or more. The idea is to get students to pause and relax their minds. You can tell them to close their eyes, feel their breathing, slowly inhaling and exhaling.
Mindful walking – This can be done during recess time. Ask students to use all of their senses as they walk. Tell them to observe what they see, hear, smell, and feel. Reflect on what your students will share.
Practice mindful eating – Encourage students to eat slowly and savor every single bite of their food. You can also discuss the origin of the food and the hard work that goes into making the food they eat.
Create a sanctuary space in the classroom – Designate a space where all students can feel safe. It should be a place where they can reset and reflect. You can provide stuffed toys, pillows, paper, colored pencils, and coloring books.
Mindfulness can calm the body, reduces stress, and improve concentration. Implementing a schoolwide mindfulness program can benefit not just the students, but the teachers as well.