Mindfulness, the act of paying attention to the present moment, has become a popular trend in recent years. With its numerous benefits for mental health and well-being, the education sector has taken notice and begun to integrate mindfulness practices into the curriculum. In this article, we will delve into the importance of mindfulness and education and how it can benefit both students and teachers.
The Definition of Mindfulness
What exactly is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is a mental state that is achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It is a powerful tool that can help cultivate inner peace, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance overall well-being.
Chaos Before Summer Break
Susan woke up early and got ready for her day at school. She arrived at her Kindergarten classroom to find her students already full of energy, running around and screaming. She tried to calm them down and start the day, but they were too excited about summer break coming up in a month.
Throughout the day, Susan struggled to keep the students focused on their lessons, as they kept getting distracted by their own thoughts and the anticipation of summer vacation.
As a result, the students became increasingly uncooperative and disruptive, making it difficult for Susan to maintain control of the classroom.
That night Susan did some research and found that mindfulness in education can help benefits students. So, she took the idea to her principal with the thought it would not only help her, but other teachers too.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
No matter what side you are on, mindfulness for students and mindfulness for teachers bring a new window of opportunity for success within a classroom.
Incorporating mindfulness and education has become increasingly popular as research has shown its numerous benefits including
Mindfulness and Education
Introduce a little something special to your classroom. Contemplative pedagogy another phrase used for mindfulness in education to quiet and shift minds away from habitual chatter, while helping students better engage in learning.
Teachers are vital to a student's success. Research has revealed that the environment and atmosphere of learning is directly correlated with how well students perform. An emotionally positive classroom not only reduces stress, but encourages excellent academic achievement setting up youth for a positive future.
Techniques for the Classroom
There are various mindfulness techniques that can be easily incorporated into the classroom to help students develop a growth mindset and manage stress and anxiety more effectively.
1. Intention Setting
Encouraging your students to set intentions is a surefire way to cultivate success and foster more productive individual and group collaborations. By taking just a few minutes at the start of each class period or project, students can reflect on guiding mindfulness principles like generosity, empathy, diligence, and alignment with their classmates’ needs to help set them up for better collaboration.
Intention setting is gaining traction in K–12 and higher grades around the globe. Follow these guidelines from experienced educators who have embraced intention setting with great results.
- Help students understand the difference of goal setting and intention setting
- Allow students to fill in the blanks while describing the difference of goal setting and intention setting. For example, "I will complete my English paper at the end of class" is a goal. Whereas, " I will limit my distractions as I stay focused and in the moment and collaborate with my lab partners" is an intention. The main difference is that a goal is specific to a task, while intentions are specific to an individual.
- Have students create both a goal and intention; have them write that down
- As students are working on their intentions and goals, check in regularly to challenge them to see how they are achieving their intentions while staying focused on their goals.
- Allow time for reflection. Near the end of class, allow students to reflect on how they did after setting an intention and goal. You can create induvial reflection, or open it to the whole class. Either way performed allows for self awareness and over all growth for the student.
2. Practice Gratitude
Empower your students to transform their mind and reap the rewards. Introducing gratitude into their lives can help them develop a positive outlook that opens up possibilities for great grades, successful goal-reaching, and healthy life choices outside of the classroom.
- Start by practicing first. Take some time and jot down 5 things you are grateful for.
- Jot down 5 things you are grateful for for 1 full week worth of work.
- At the end of the week, go back and reflect on the things you wrote down and how this exercise impacted your life inside and outside of the class room.
- The next week, bring your list to class, and teach your students about this exercise getting them engaged and peaking their interest.
- After class engagement on the topic, and sharing the benefits you experienced, encourage them to write down 5 things they are grateful for and do this for one week.
- At the end of the week, depending on the age group, you can have the class come together and reflect and share their personal gratitude. This will act not only as an incentive for what appears to be outside class learning, but also help students discover more about themselves and classmates building a deeper relationship.
3. Active Listening
Help students become better listeners by giving them the opportunity to actively engage in exercises that will build their capacity and hone this essential life skill.
- Story Telling Flashcards: This can be a mindfulness for preschoolers technique by creating flash cards with various animals or scenes. Have enough for each student. With all the pieces of flash cards craft an imaginary story that you can tell your students. Then, when you are ready to go to school and perform the activity, you will scatter the flashcards all around the room. Have your students find them all and gather around for story time. Instruct your students that when they hear about the subject or object on their card is being talked to raise their card up high.
4. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is such a great tool as it helps students to gain focus and heighten their sense of awareness. It also encourages them to be present, slow down their breathing rate, become more mindful - all on top increasing concentration levels!. And what if I told you that this isn't just limited to lying down? One popular option for classes with active children or where space may be difficult is by doing guided meditations using an object – like a raisin. Simply follow these steps
- Touch base with your students explaining what the five sense are.
- Have a timer on the ready for 10 minutes and give each student a raisin
- Have the student be present in the moment, using their senses to examine the raisin they have.
- Ask mindful questions for students to help them engage with their senses. Smelling it, touching it, what it looks likes, and tasting it and being mindful of how it feels in their teeth.
- If they are old enough, have students make notes of their thoughts for each sense they experience.
- After the timer goes off, have the students discuss their experience while describing what they felt along the way.
Through the experience of examining one raisin, your students will learn to appreciate and explore every aspect of their lives. Slowing down not only helps inspire an appetite for greater knowledge but also allows them to become much more mindful as they take in all that is around them.
5. Create a Mindful Corner
Having a space dedicated to being present in the moment and for students to kick back will incentivize students to be engaged and want to kick back in the space at designated times and days you allow. In this space you can have a comfy chair, bean bags, books, coloring, rewards chest, and mindful quotes for students hanging on the wall.
Have a senses chart to explain what senses are and a chart near by where students can fill out what they smell, hear, feel, taste, and see within their time there. For example, maybe the bean bag you have is soft and fuzzy.
Peace Before Summer Break
After close consideration, the principal enjoyed the idea of bringing mindfulness into classrooms because it would also help the other staff before summer break.
As a new week approached, Susan arrived at her classroom ready to dive into mindfulness. She greeted her students with a sense of calm and presence; began the day with a guided meditation exercise with allergy friendly foods encouraging students to be mindful in the moment and present with their senses.
This which helped her students to settle down and become more attentive to their surroundings. Throughout the day, Susan engaged her students in learning exercises that involved active listening, such as story telling flashcards.
By the end of the day, Susan noticed a significant improvement in her students' behavior and focus, and she felt more centered and relaxed herself. Thanks to mindfulness techniques, she was able to create a more positive and productive learning environment for her students.
Is mindfulness suitable for all age groups?
Yes, mindfulness practices can be adapted to suit students of all ages, from primary school to university.
How much time should be dedicated to mindfulness practices in the classroom?
The frequency and duration of mindfulness practices in the classroom can vary depending on the school's schedule and students' needs. However, even short mindfulness breaks can have a positive impact on students' well-being and academic performance.
Can mindfulness improve academic performance?
Yes, research has shown that mindfulness practices can improve students' academic performance by enhancing concentration and memory, reducing stress and anxiety levels, and fostering a growth mindset.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can greatly benefit both students and teachers in the education sector. It can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve concentration, foster empathy and compassion, and enhance academic performance. Furthermore, mindfulness can be adapted to suit students of all ages and can be incorporated into various subjects, such as science, English, and social studies, to enhance the learning experience.
In the fast-paced and often stressful world of education, mindfulness provides a way for students and teachers to take a moment of pause, cultivate inner peace, and improve their overall well-being. By prioritizing mindfulness in education, we can help create a brighter future for our students and teachers.