Updated: Mar 5
How can we bring mindfulness into the classroom? This question was posed to us by Atom Learning (www.atomlearning.co.uk), an adaptive online learning platform for ages 7 -12+ that helps children master key subject areas and reach their full potential. At myKinCloud we tend to focus on mindfulness within the family, using an app to make it easier to promote deeper connection, but mindful living extends into all aspects of our lives, including the classroom. We love this question and absolutely would like to address it.
Our kids are experiencing increased pressures. Let’s look at the specific example of my daughter, who has just completed the infamous 11+ exam process in the UK. We are grateful to Atom Learning for the online platform that they provide both in school and through a more enhanced version at home to make the process efficient and incredibly effective. The reality, though, is that exam processes in general can be incredibly stressful! This is just one example of a rigorous school situation, but around the world students of all ages experience their own versions of intense work. Our kids’ education is one of our top priorities, making it overwhelming for us, and even more overwhelming for our kids, so it is important that we teach them how to manage this. Education platforms such as Atom Learning coupled with mindfulness practices ensure that we are giving our kids an enriched, balanced experience.
So what can be done?
Many parents are currently their kids’ teachers, and of course these mindfulness practices can be also be practiced at home, but hopefully all kids will be back in the classroom soon and the same principles apply. Here are some ideas:
Meditation: One of the most simple, effective stress-reducing activities is meditation. When my son was just 9, his math teacher had the kids meditate for a few minutes at the beginning of each class. My high-energy son even said himself that it helped him relax and focus more in class, and I could see myself the positive effect it had on his work that year. Before a lesson at home or at school, or when you sense they might be feeling some extra pressure, have the kids close their eyes and start focusing on their breath by counting for them. Have them breathe while you slowly count to 4 on an inhale, and then slowly count to 4 on an exhale, continuing on like this for 8-10 rounds. This simple practice instantly brings the kids’ attention to the present moment, helping them gain focus, and it also helps them slow down their breath, ultimately reducing their stress level.
Yoga: Try a short yoga desk break. Kids get fidgety and need to get up once in a while to stretch and refresh! Have them stand up from their chair and reach their arms high for a mountain pose, which will help them get back in touch with their body.
Next have them take their legs wide apart and bend forward with their arms behind their back to reverse the flow of blood, helping reduce upper body tension and also invigorate them.
Whey they sit back down, they might notice that they feel a bit more stretched out and energized, with a renewed focus on the task at hand.
Gratitude: Ask the kids daily one thing they are grateful for, and go around the room and have the kids take turns telling the group their answers. This group sharing inspires each other, and since gratitude encourages happiness, the end result could be a more calm and positive atmosphere.
Self-awareness check-ins: Try something similar to a gratitude circle but this time do a self-awareness check-in. Go around the room daily and have the kids take turns stating one word to describe how they feel, no explanation required. This simple act helps them recognize what they are feeling, promoting better self-awareness and ultimately the ability to notice when they aren’t feeling 100% and might need to make some changes.
Short, daily mindfulness habits in the classroom help kids bring their attention into the present moment and be aware of what is going on in both their minds and their bodies, naturally giving them moments of stress relief. The added experience of practicing these daily habits together with their classmates helps them realize that they are not alone in their daily duties, and might feel a closer bond and connection through these simple activities.