7 Ways to teach mindfulness in your classroom
Students in your classroom are not immune from worry. They stress over things that have already happened, and they fear the future.
That’s where teaching mindfulness comes in.
If you’ve ever reacted too hastily or been thinking about something else during a conversation with someone, then you haven’t been mindful. It happens to nearly everyone at some point.
Worry nags at us until we give it our attention. Then we become distracted and anxious. Kids pick up anxiety from the adults in their lives.
Parents and teachers who practice mindfulness, however, are less stressed. They live in the present moment, where they don’t beat themselves up over the past, and they anticipate the future with confidence. They’re happier.
Teaching mindfulness is a way to help students focus on the present and be happier, too.
7 mindfulness techniques
- Practice mindfulness in your life. You will find it easier to teach if you have developed mindful habits. You probably already use mindfulness in many of your daily activities, but you can expand your awareness by using your senses.
- Breathe intentionally. During times of exhaustion or stress, deep breathing cleanses and invigorates your being. Teach your students to inhale deeply and evenly, pause, and exhale slowly. Repeat three times. Teach your students to use this technique before or after a challenging assignment.
- Observe quietly. There’s more than meets the eye when teaching mindfulness. Show your students how to notice what’s going on around them using variations of the “I Spy” game. Play “I hear” or “I feel” and let your students share their observations in their journals or with a partner.
- Rely on ritual. The consistency of routines set the stage for mindful thinking. Muscle memory contributes to daily routine, and it’s during this time children can concentrate on sensory input like their breathing or the sounds they hear. Ask students to listen to their hearts beat while they are breathing or how long it takes a sound in the classroom to disappear.
- Make the most of teachable moments. Classrooms are hives of opportunity. You may be focused on getting through the curriculum requirements, but when a teachable moment appears, take advantage of it. The lesson will be memorable because it was in the moment and mindful.
- Encourage description. Noticing details and describing them is a skill used in many subjects. Have your students practice this mindful technique by having them describe objects they can touch, smell, or taste.
- Teach kindness. Single acts of kindness are born out of mindfulness. Students who practice kindness observe, identify, and act.
Mindfulness helps students focus on assignments, tasks, and even relationships. When you teach mindfulness in your classroom, you’re helping to reduce the likelihood of bullying, and you’re helping your students improve their social skills.
By using simple and fun lessons that develop mindfulness in children, you’re helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
Bill Keane, the creator of the “Family Circus” comic strip, said, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
Teaching mindfulness is perhaps the best gift you can give your students.