Mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword lately. But, it’s only become so popular because more people are starting to see how effective it can be – even for children. If you’ve seen the benefits of mindfulness for yourself, you already know how impactful it can be in how you live your life.
If you’re a teacher, teaching mindfulness techniques to your students can come with many different benefits. It can reduce stress, improve memory and focus, and promote self-regulation. Those are all things kids can benefit from at any age.
Bringing mindfulness to your classroom can improve your students’ emotional intelligence. It won’t just help them in the moment. Rather, it can be a tool they take with them everywhere, for years to come.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into that idea, and discuss why teaching mindfulness can have such an impact on your students and their future.
Your Unique Opportunity as a Teacher
You have an incredible position as a teacher to guide your students in a way no one else can. You also have a platform to help change the future through their ideas and works. If you want to teach your students to be more mindful, it starts with the right environment. Try to bring a calming atmosphere to your classroom, in general. When you want to guide your students through mindfulness techniques, try dimming the lights or playing soft music.
There are plenty of different guided practices and techniques to consider for the classroom. Finding age-appropriate practices is what’s important. For younger children, you might consider the “54321 check:”
- Have your students point out five things they see in the classroom
- Allow them to touch four things they can feel
- Have them listen to three things they can hear
- Let them breathe in two things they can smell
- Finally, have them focus on one thing they can taste
This activity can introduce your students to the idea of mindfulness and teach them how to pay attention to the present. Older students can try things like journaling, gratitude practicing, or even guided meditation. After a while, you can take a step back. Your students are likely to find a mindfulness technique that works for them. While you can still provide guidance, letting them choose their own ways to be more mindful will help to ensure they continue it, even as they get older. Think about what you’re most comfortable teaching, and your students will be more likely to follow your guidance.
Taking Mindfulness Everywhere
The mindfulness skills you teach your students in the classroom can impact them in everyday situations. That’s especially true when a student is dealing with a difficult time, either at home or at school. Toxic stress can manifest itself through anger and frustration. Mindfulness allows children to take that stress and channel it elsewhere. It can help them with things like:
- Having difficult conversations with friends
- Avoiding fights at school
- Setting boundaries
- Focusing on their education
- Making mental health more important
Mindfulness only has to take a few minutes each day. But, the lasting effects can carry over into even the most compromising of situations. When you teach a student how to be mindful, they can use it in moments of distress. That will allow them to make better choices with a clearer head while taking care of themselves in the process.
Your goal in teaching mindfulness shouldn’t only be to get your kids to calm down in the classroom. It should be a resource they can take with them wherever they go. That’s true, successful mindfulness, and that’s why it’s such a popular practice.
Educating Now for a Brighter Future
To say we’re living in uncertain times would be an understatement. Kids are feeling the weight of that uncertainty more than most people realize. In May 2020, 29% of surveyed parents said their children’s mental health had already started to decline because of the pandemic. Now, with over a year of mask-wearing, vaccines, remote learning, and social distancing, the mental health effects are even greater.
By teaching mindfulness in the classroom, you’re not only giving kids the resources they need to take care of problems now. You’re showing them how to manage their mental health on a long-term basis.
Anxiety has changed for everyone, kids included, since COVID-19. It has shifted from fear of the virus to stress over being isolated from people and activities. Things like anxiety and stress can create extreme moods and can become heavier the longer they are carried. When a child is taught how to be mindful, they can let go of that weight sooner and will be able to better manage their symptoms. Mindfulness isn’t just a “quick fix”. It’s a long-term management tool for mental health issues. By bringing it to children now as a way to make their mental health a priority, you’re doing your part in building a better future – no matter what uncertainties the world might continue to bring.