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You may have heard the word tossed around casually or discussed at length during your staff meetings. Whether you are a seasoned mindfulness professional or if this is the first time you are seeing the word, here’s what you need to know.
It seems like a simple concept. However, there is a great deal of importance to focusing on mindfulness. Every day, our students are bombarded with navigating social situations and maintaining academic rigor. Often, it feels like there is simply no time to slow down. Focusing on mindfulness can add that “slow down” time into your day.
Picture your daily actions. In the morning, do you ever drive to school and wonder how you got there? At lunch, do you ever scarf down your lukewarm bowl of leftovers and barely remember what you ate? Don’t worry; you are not alone. If this has ever happened to you, you may want to try incorporating a few mindful practices into your day or your classroom routines.
1. Mindful Hand Washing
Pick a task you find yourself doing many times during the day. Washing your hands, walking to the school office, or emptying the drying racks. Whenever you find yourself doing this chosen task, focus on your “spidey senses.”
For example, when washing your hands, slow down. Think about the temperature of the water. Ground your feet on the floor and feel the pressure of your feet in your shoes. Listen to the sound of splashing water. Look closely at your reflection or the sink backsplash, noticing all the fine details. Take a deep breath and mentally prepare yourself for what is next. This act of slowing down during a common task will help you pepper in little mindful moments throughout your day. For more, read A List of Simple Ways to Teach More Mindfully.
2. Singing Bowl Guided Meditation
When you think of meditation, you probably think of someone sitting criss-cross applesauce and humming with their eyes closed. While this meditation practice can be helpful for some individuals, it may not work the best for a classroom full of squirrely students.
Try using a singing bowl, an instrument typically used for yoga practice, that, when hit, resonates a single calm note for an extended period of time. Have your students sit comfortably and close their eyes. Have them raise one hand when the singing bowl starts ringing. Then, as the sound fades away, have students put their hands down when they can no longer hear the singing bowl. This act of intentionally focusing on a single, specific sound makes the practice of meditation more feasible in a classroom setting.
3. Belly Buddies
Do you know the best way to take a deep breath? Proper breathing is a great skill to teach students using a little trick called “belly buddies.” Belly buddies are little stuffed animals (or even art items like paintbrushes or balls of yarn) that can be used to show students how to take their best breath.
Have students lie down on their backs and set a belly buddy on their tummy. Then, have students breathe deeply to make their belly buddy “ride the wave.” Breathing deeply from the diaphragm allows the belly buddy to move up and down slowly and calmly, having students focus intentionally on their deep breathing. Check out this video to see belly buddies (and other mindful practices) in action!
4. First Five
Typically, the first 5 minutes of student work time may be a kerfuffle of students passing out supplies or getting organized before settling into their work. However, the first five minutes of work time can be the perfect time to begin a mindful practice with your students.
Try using a visual timer like this 5-minute glitter jar and have students start the first 5 minutes of work time in complete silence, focusing intentionally on the task at hand. If you teach your students how to focus mindfully, this routine can be a great way to start class AND maintain your sanity. Learn more with Five Minute Mindfulness.
5. Art Mantra or Calm Down Corner
Try giving your students more ownership over their mindful practices. A great way to do this is by adding a mindful space to your classroom, specifically a Calm Down Corner. You can also include positive self-affirmations by using an art mantra or put together resources like guided breathing posters and sensory jars in a special spot in your room.
No matter what mindful activities you do, you and your students are sure to benefit from taking an extra few seconds to slow down. Remember, it’s all about intentional focus but like everything, it takes practice.
What mindful practices have you tried in your classroom?
What benefits can you see from practicing mindful techniques?
When might be the best time for adding a mindful practice to your class routine?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.