Integrating Mindfulness in Your Classroom Curriculum
It is more important than ever to incorporate mindfulness training into the curriculum of schools. Our children experience both stress and anxiety on a regular basis. Both instructors and parents are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Because of the hectic nature of our lives, we frequently find that our minds are racing through the events of the past or become anxious about the times to come. Mindfulness is important for us because it teaches us to live in the here and now, to appreciate and take pleasure in the experiences that are immediately in front of us.
Educators are aware that the optimal conditions for a child’s learning are one in which they feel secure, at ease, and comfortable. Imagine that in addition to giving our children the gift of learning that will last a lifetime and the tools they will need to become adults who are both kind and productive, we could also give them the gift of mindfulness, teaching them how to use their breath and their mind to live a happy and healthy life. In return, teachers will also benefit from practising mindfulness because it is common knowledge that a contented teacher makes for a contented classroom.
1. Mindfulness Through Breath
When we are concerned or agitated, it is common for our breathing to become shallow and chest-focused. You may use your breath to relax both your body and your mind, and one way to do this is to breathe deeply into the belly. Place your right hand on your abdomen and your left palm on your chest, and bring your attention to the gradual rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. This is the mindful breathing exercise. Count to three as you take a breath in, and then count to three once again as you let the breath out. If it makes you feel more at ease, you can also close your eyes. You should practise mindful breathing on your own first, and only then should you incorporate your students. You could have them imagine that they are blowing up a balloon in their stomachs, or you could use a Hoberman Sphere as a visual depiction of the breath. This easy breathing technique can be used multiple times throughout the school day to help with transitions, test preparation, or stressful situations. You can return to it whenever you feel the need.
2. Mindfulness Through Sensory Experiences
Children can become more focused and relaxed through the use of sensory experiences. You might find it helpful to listen to music or other sounds that are soothing in the classroom. You might also try taking the kids outside to expose them to the noises of the natural world. They could participate in a game of I Spy or make thought jars. In order to participate in this game, you will need to fill jars with things that have distinct and recognisable odours, such as cinnamon, flowers, cheese, or popcorn, and then ask the children to identify the things using only their sense of smell. Ask each of your children to close their eyes, hand them a cotton ball or a sponge, and then ask them to guess what it is that they are holding. This will help them become more aware of their sense of touch. It’s wonderful to have tables that are covered with containers of water, sand, ice, or themed accessories to use as sensory activities. Play-doh, clay, shaving cream, and Slime are all great materials for encouraging imaginative play.
3. Mindfulness Through Guided Imagery
Children’s imaginations can be developed through the use of guided visualisation. Integrating new information with previously acquired knowledge is another useful strategy. Have your students close their eyes (if doing so is not uncomfortable for them) and then carefully guide them through a pretend journey whenever you are introducing a new subject in the classroom. For instance, if you are teaching kids about the ocean, you could have them envision themselves getting into underwater vehicles and travelling through the waters of the ocean while searching for fish, creatures, and plants. Bring an end to the guided relaxation with a few long, deep breaths, and then invite the students to draw what they have been imagining and talk about their thoughts as a group. You may take them on pretend adventures into outer space; to the beach, forest, or a deserted island; on a safari; or even up a volcano, depending on the topics that are covered in your curriculum. Your children can learn to rest and re-energize more easily if you take them on adventures through stories of relaxation.
4. Mindfulness Through Movement
The ability to move is innate in humans. Our remote ancestors spent their days either fleeing from dangerous animals or going on hunting expeditions. Movement is an essential component of human existence, yet in today’s world, it’s treated more like a luxury. Your kids will have the opportunity to tap into their natural manner of learning when you incorporate movement into your classroom. The practise of yoga is an easy way to include more movement into your academic day. Children can develop their self-expression and self-confidence by imitating the people and things in their environment. They are able to practise yoga anywhere they choose, whether in their seats, at the gym, or outside. Again, making the motion relevant and meaningful for your students is accomplished by picking postures that match with the topic you are covering in class. For instance, if you’re learning about animals from different parts of the world, you might try the Downward-Facing Dog Pose (to imitate a sheepdog), the Cat Pose (to imitate a lion), and the Extended Child’s Pose (to be a turtle). You might generate ideas for yoga pose sequences that your children will adore and appreciate by consulting yoga pose cards or yoga books.
To get started with mindfulness, you could give one of the practises a try. Then, provide it to your students while tailoring the experience to meet their requirements, even if it’s simply for two to five minutes every day between transitions or for mental breaks in the middle of the day. You might try introducing a new mindfulness practise every week, every month, or every term, or just take one idea (mindful breathing, for example) and practise that throughout the year. If you take the time now to plant the seed of mindfulness and meditation in your students, it will remain with them for the rest of their lives.