Many of us are familiar with the benefits associated with practicing mindfulness as adults. Yet, you may be surprised to learn that children are being introduced to concepts of mindfulness and meditation more and more. This may be implemented in a variety of different forms from following movement exercises, practising deep breathing to keeping a gratitude journal. You may be asking yourself, why does mindfulness education matter and how can it help students perform better in school, as well as ease feelings of stress associated with major transitions (like back-to-school time or exams). To answer this question, we have children’s mental health advocate, Michelle Faber, Founder and CEO of Busy Minds Ed. here to guest blog with us. Read on for her 5 mindfulness activities she recommends for families looking to learn together.
With a new school year, parents are faced with the challenge of equipping their children for success. One way in which to do this is by introducing mindfulness practices, which can help children be better prepared both mentally and emotionally for the demands of a school year.
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword right now. So, what does it mean exactly? Mindfulness refers to the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment or distraction. It has been proven to have a positive effect on mental health and well-being, as it helps bring clarity to thoughts and emotions. Practicing mindfulness can improve your child’s ability to concentrate and stay focused, helping them to achieve their goals both inside and outside of the classroom.
To help you get started in introducing mindfulness into your family’s day-to-day life, here are five exercises you can do together at home:
1. Stop & Breathe – Taking a few moments throughout the day to stop what you’re doing and focus on your breathing can have an immediate calming effect on both body and mind. Have your child sit in a comfortable position and take three full breaths, noticing how their body feels during each one.
2. Body Scan – A body scan is a technique used to become aware of sensations throughout the body from head to toe without judgment or attachment to any particular feeling or thought that comes up. Ask your child to close their eyes as they go through each part of their body noticing how it feels before finally returning attention to their breath.
3. Movement Meditation – Sometimes it is helpful for kids (and adults!) to move as they meditate instead of sitting still. Invite your child to take part in a movement meditation by walking around slowly while focusing solely on their steps; or if indoors try taking slow deep breaths while gently stretching different parts of their body. This kind of meditation may be more appealing for kids who struggle with sitting still for too long.
4. Gratitude Practice – Research has shown that practicing gratitude can lead to increased satisfaction in life and improved mental health outcomes such as reduced stress levels. Encourage your child to take some time each day - perhaps before bedtime - where they acknowledge something they are grateful for that day; this could include anything from people they interacted with during the day, things they learned or even just simple acts such as kindness from others that made them feel good within themselves.
5. Create A Relaxation Zone – Having a designated area at home where kids can go when feeling overwhelmed or stressed out will enable them to manage these feelings more effectively without having them spiral out of control! Allocate a corner of your home with items such as cushions, blankets etc. where they can go when feeling overwhelmed; this space should be inviting and calming for them so that they will feel comfortable spending time there when needed.
I hope these tips will help equip you to introduce mindfulness into your family’s daily routine for all members involved - including yourself -to benefit from its calming influence. With mindful practice comes greater awareness and increased peace within ourselves - something we all wish our children could experience during these difficult yet exciting times ahead. --MF
Now that Michelle has taught the Teachers on Call community some new exercises to help children benefit from mindfulness to decrease stress and increase satisfaction, our in-person and online tutoring team hope this helps students (and grown-ups) live in the moment. For more tips from Michelle Faber on fostering positive physical and mental health in children, follow @littleyogisca and @busymindsca or subscribe via littleyogisacademy.com
Remember to check the Teachers on Call blog for more guest posts. Up next from Michelle Faber will be Mindful Morning Routines: Starting the School Day Right, as well as Simple Strategies for a Back-to-School Kitchen Reset from organization expert, Sarah Grant!
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