Starting a Mindfulness Practice in Your Classroom:
Setting the Stage
When you are trying to teach your kids or young clients about what mindfulness is and how it can benefit them, it’s best to start off with a few simple guidelines:
- Make sure they are ready to give mindfulness a try; if they are full of energy and itching to run and play, it may not be the best time for practicing mindfulness for the first time.
- Keep the purpose of mindfulness practice in mind. Be sure to engage in mindful practice with children in positive situations, and never use it as a disciplinary tool.
- Explain it in an age appropriate way; put it in words they will understand but take care not to make them feel like you are talking down to them. (We provided a script in an associated post.) Stress the idea of calm and mindfulness/ breathing as being a tool for coming back to calm.
- Practice mindfulness with them. Having a model makes all the difference. You might be surprised at how helpful the practice is for you and your teaching!
- Assure them that it’s okay to get off track, and share with them how to gently guide themselves back to mindfulness. Encourage conversation!
- Involve students in the process; perhaps designate a different child each day to alert the class when it’s time to practice mindfulness or help set up any tools or props. Considering using our Mindfulness Practice Cards (check them out in our store at: products/mindfulness cards)
- Share your own experiences with the kids; this will help them understand how mindfulness is applied and practiced in everyday life. Be open- How have you experienced “being still” as helping you? Give examples of ways you might be slowing down, taking a breath before you speak or controlling impulsivity or anger.
- Encourage the children to share their experiences as well, whether they were good experiences with mindfulness or experiences in which they got distracted. Did anyone try this during the day? When? How did it help you?
- Set a daily routine for practicing mindfulness to make sure you always get around to it. The more you embed mindfulness into the daily routine, the easier it is to engage.
Mindfulness is being present, gentle, attentive, compassionate and grateful for each moment.