Mindfulness, the practice of calming the mind and body, is an essential life skill that everyone should know and understand. Learning mindfulness as a school-aged child can provide many benefits including the following:
Today’s children are overscheduled and overstimulated both at school and at home. If they are not engaging in sports, travel teams, or other extracurricular activities, they are zoned in on a device. This lifestyle contributes to an overall feeling of anxiety and a lack of control. Mindfulness education can give kids an outlet to settle their minds and hearts. While there have not yet been large scale studies, small studies among 6th graders in Boston schools have shown positive results.
Self-control is more challenging for some school-aged children than others. Providing mindfulness as a tool helps them with their sometimes impulsive behavior.
While it is clear that mindfulness can help children, it is not always clear how a mindfulness “curriculum” should be delivered in a classroom setting. Suggestions for doing so are as follows:
(1) Mindfulness at school must be a cultural change, not a class, goal, or action word. This means that naysayers need to beware because their words and behaviors can impact the success of the program. Yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, and other exercises should be introduced for all grades in an age-appropriate manner.
(2) Mindfulness behaviors should not be limited to students. Teachers and administration can be students in mindfulness also. Part of making the culture change is to show and tell the students how adults can use mindfulness in their daily lives.
The idea is to gradually employ mindfulness techniques into the way teachers teach and students learn each day. An organization called Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) has over a decade of experience in introducing mindfulness to students in England. Mindfulness4U is another resource to assist.
If children are given mindfulness tools at school, they can implement them in all areas of their lives including their home lives, in their relationships with their siblings and parents, and in their routines including healthy eating and sleeping habits. Mindfulness in schools is a relatively new topic, and American schools have just begun to adopt these behaviors into traditional classrooms.