School doors are opening again, but the pandemic has greatly affected the young scholars who enter. The stress and anxiety that the COVID climate has spawned can be overwhelming, and research is showing it has taken a toll on our children’s emotional well-being. As teachers on the frontlines, we can empower our students for this fight by actively using effective tools of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that focuses on our awareness of the present moment. It is a means of calming the mind and body by consciously acknowledging and accepting our thoughts and feelings. It sounds like a simple task, but when we are anxious or stressed, this can be a challenge. By integrating short mindfulness sessions into the school day, we can help students feel more centered, focused, and actively ready to learn. Mindfulness isn’t just another new educational trend—it is anchored in ancient traditions. Help maintain a positive mindset and keep your students feeling at ease with just a few simple techniques that introduce mindfulness into the classroom.
Take a Calming Breath
Ask everyone in the classroom to stop, sit comfortably, and close their eyes. Direct students to slowly and purposefully inhale and exhale. Speaking softly, encourage children to try to clear their minds of everything except the feeling of each deep, purposeful breath. This is a simple yet effective calming strategy for the mind and body.
Move to Music
Music is a powerful tool that touches our emotions. Play soothing music and invite students to move to the sounds they hear. Reassure them that the classroom is a safe place, and all are respected as they move. Encourage students to focus on the feel of their bodies as they engage with the melody.
Participate in a Nature Study
Present students with an item from nature, like a stone, leaf, or wildflower. Have students purposefully observe the specimen—have them hold it in their hands and use their senses to take in its beauty. After examining, have the class sketch their items, paying close attention to unique details. Remind your young ones that this is not an art contest, but a time to actively observe the details we so often miss as we hurry through the day.
So often, we grab food on the go and devour it quickly. Bring in a healthy snack to enjoy. You might choose to give each student a strawberry, grape, and orange slice. Encourage the class to use their senses and actively explore each item. How does it smell, feel, look, and taste?
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Take a few minutes out of the learning day and encourage your students to remove the tension from their bodies. Starting at the top of the head: relax, breathe deeply, and feel the relaxation flow down to your chin. Now, breathe deeply and relax your shoulders. Feel the tension flow from your shoulders as you relax. Continue in this manner, working your way down to your toes as you focus on each muscle group to release the stress from the body.
Tap into Yoga
Take a moment to try a few child-friendly yoga poses. While holding each pose, encourage your students to breathe deeply and focus on actively engaging their bodies and minds with each distinct movement.
Participate in Kindness Meditation
Have students sit in a comfortable position and take a deep cleansing breath. Next, ask them to think of someone they respect and care about. Ask them to reflect on how they feel when this person enters their thoughts. Take a minute to wish them well or mentally thank them.
The stress and uncertainty of this pandemic has weighed heavily on us all, and our children are facing external stressors that can cause internal struggles. Practicing mindfulness techniques in our classrooms can help kids become better equipped to deal with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their focus. We want to help our young ones build the resilience to thrive in the midst of life’s challenges both in and out of the classroom. Mindfulness techniques are a simple, yet powerful way to build our students’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Take a deep cleansing breath and give it a try!