Not only is mindfulness a buzz word in schools systems… but what does it actually mean for educators in our ever changing classrooms? I’ve experienced and seen the benefits of this practice in my own life and in the lives of my friends and clients… as adults we’ve only ever wished we discovered this sense of awareness earlier in life. This is why it’s suddenly being brought into classrooms all over the world.
With consistent practice, students will find their improve their sleep, self-confidence, self-control and reduce anxiety and negative reactions. These benefits, amongst countless others, are the reasons why mindfulness is a daily practice in my classroom. I believe and have seen this practice in classrooms from grades k-12 and the key is to keep it consistent and fun. Not to mention, it nicely falls into the “Wellness” part of curriculum. And if that is not part of your curriculum, make it fit because it’s worth it!
The most commonly asked question from my colleagues is “How do you introduce your students to mindfulness?” I always start with the breath. Why? Because what is more foundational, responsive and relatable than the breath?
Here is how I introduce and guide my first mindfulness activity and how I continue to integrate it daily.
Do take into consideration I teach grade 1 French Immersion, however, this method is very adaptable for younger and older ages!
- Have the students sit in a circle and introduce them to their lungs. Let them feel their rib cage, notice how it moves and functions during inhalations, exhalations and holding the breath.
- Have them put the left hand on their heart and the right hand on their belly. Invite the students to notice how both their chest and belly expands and contracts during breathing. I’d also mention that our posture also determines how our breath will change.
- From there, I encourage the students to have their belly fill with more air than their chest making the belly movements bigger than the chest movements. Here you’re introducing the Deep Belly Breath. Every day I make a point of taking 5-10 Deep Belly Breaths with my students. Also, they have the option of doing these breaths sitting or lying down.
- Integrating into our day: After the gym or recess when their wound up, ask the students how they feel. After taking our daily 10 Deep Belly Breathes, as the students how they feel now. Here they are experiencing the “when and how” they can take themselves from heated up to cool and calm by controlling their breath. This is a great gateway for discussions of other times in their life they could use this breathing technique.
I’d love to know what you think about this mindfulness introduction, any specific questions or how you might change it up for your student’s age groups by leaving a comment below!