Nowadays, we often find ourselves taking too much. Working too much, saying ‘yes’ to things we do not have time for, overthinking things too much, and whatnot. In all of this, children are left overwhelmed, just like us grownups. But there is a bright hope!
Mindfulness activities have proven useful and essential in keeping the mind healthier and active. It is commonly known that mindfulness can boost the quality of our lives in various ways. True, in today’s rush, our thoughts keep running, and we seek too much and forget the joy of just being.
Mindfulness activities ignite a spark of joy. It helps in prioritising the social-emotional learning of students at schools. Moreover, mindfulness involves an awareness and acceptance of the world around us and our internal experiences. People who exercise mindfulness tend to focus on the present instead of being stuck in the past or future. They work on cultivating a curiosity toward their emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations.
When mindfulness activities are conducted in a classroom, it helps in reducing the stress which comes with academic work. This enables students to strengthen their cognitive abilities and sharpen their skills.
Why Mindfulness in a Classroom?
If you’re wondering why mindfulness can teach in a classroom, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has connected mindfulness with two core social-emotional skills, i.e., self-awareness and self-regulation. These skills are essentially utilized to teach students how to recognize their emotions, actions, and thoughts and how to react positively.
Practicing simple mindfulness activities alter brain structure, further improving the student’s reaction to stress. It thickens the cerebral cortex responsible for perception and reasoning and boosts the blood flow in the brain. Mindfulness activities reduce stress levels and alleviate depression or anxiety.
But why mindfulness in a classroom? Mindfulness for students is advantageous as it helps children with learning disabilities, especially those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Moreover, a study revealed that children with learning disabilities receive mindfulness training and, score good grades, have lesser behavioral issues compared to before starting the training.
Mindfulness Activities in Classroom
Let’s start with a simple yet effective exercise to attune children to their bodies. A young age of a human being is a great age when humans naturally get curious about the flexibility and strength of their bodies. It introduces them to body-mind awareness.
Mindful Sensory Challenge
Under this activity, a child must sit still and take a few deep breaths with them. After it, first, let them concentrate on what they hear for at least 30 seconds. Afterward, let the children concentrate on what they can smell for another 30 seconds and then focus on what they feel. Lastly, allow them to open their eyes for 30 seconds and let them focus on what they see. This mindfulness activity for students in a classroom is one of the simplest and fastest.
Mindfulness in Eating
Yes, eating works too! Firstly, choose any edible piece- it can be candy. Then, let the kids sit down and give them some candy. The aim here is to let the children close their eyes and sit calmly while holding the piece of candy in their mouths. For the next 2-3 minutes, have the children focus on the sensory experience of the candy in their mouths. It consists of the taste and feel of the candy. This activity boosts the capacity to focus and still.
Do you want to get a classroom full of excited and energetic students? It might seem impossible, but it is possible. Start with a stillness challenge where the entire classroom calmly sits in a lotus position. It might not be victorious but start with a small group. Afterward, turn the lights off and play a calming sound. Have the classroom sit for 30 minutes with streamlined stillness. This might get frustrating; thus, try to set a time for every 2-3 minutes. It can be repeated until the children are perfectly still.
Sounds challenge is a fun and relaxing mindfulness activity for the students in a classroom. Have the students sit silently, using a Tibetan sounding bowl, a bell, or a tuning fork, and let the children listen to the sounds you make with the items. The sound must be fading sounds. Now, the children are listening to the sound carefully and only listen to the sound of the item you choose. Make the fading sounds, and let the children bow their heads when they no longer hear the sound.
Mindful Breathing Exercise
It is a quick and simple mindfulness activity for the classroom. Under this activity, students are sitting or standing and are asked to keep their hands on their bellies. Then, have them close their eyes, stare at the ceiling, or look down at their hands. Help the students by guiding them to take three slow deep breaths in and out and let them feel their hands move freely with the air flowing through their bodies. Count each breath with one while inhaling and two while exhaling. Completing the set for 5 minutes can benefit the students to be present, improve their concentration, and sort out their feelings.
Conclusively, many researchers have confirmed that mindfulness activities for students in a classroom improve mental health by aiding self-regulation, attention, social competency, and well-being. If practiced regularly and encouraged daily, it can have a life-long impact on the teens’ and children’s social, psychological, and cognitive well-being.