5 Ways Mindfulness May Be Introduced to Your Child This School Year

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5 Ways Mindfulness May Be Introduced to Your Child This School Year

by Olessia Kantor
Mind Wellness Family Yoga Mindfulness Mindful Children Kids Breathing Meditation School

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I decided to take my girls to the playground for a little sun and fun before they get hit with the back to school blues. As you might expect during the last days of summer, the park was packed with kids and their parents. Many parents were distracted by their phones as their kids played along, so much so that it wasn’t until a scream rang out over the playground that everyone’s heads popped up. A little girl laid at the bottom of the fireman’s pole, where she had fallen after a boy anxious to slide down lamented she’d been taking too long. The little boy’s mother, understandably embarrassed and angered, immediately began screaming at her son as she dragged him off toward the car. While it only took a moment for things on the playground to go back to normal, the incident took residence in my mind for much longer.

Over the years, there have been many crazes in parenting that have come and gone. Once upon a time, people wouldn’t do a thing with their babies that Dr. Spock didn’t recommend. In today’s information age, there’s so many different opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do with your children that it’ll make your head spin. I try to incorporate mindfulness into parenting, just as I do with other areas of my life. I was surprised to learn that some educators are doing the same.

Have you ever met a person who brings the emotions from their outside lives into their professional ones, therefore affecting their performance? It’s believed that children who cannot control their emotions react similarly in schools. The idea of introducing mindfulness to the curriculum will help children renew their focus on their studies by giving them time to sort through their emotions and learn how not to become overwhelmed by all the possible things they could be doing at any given moment.

This has piqued the interests of so many that a research team in Chicago was granted $3 million to conduct a study on mindfulness in high poverty public schools throughout the city in children ages 5-8. The study acknowledged that many of the current forms of dealing with children who don’t pay attention or cause disturbances in the classroom is to send them out of the room, which takes away from education time in favor of discipline, or being told to do things that young children only understand abstractly, like “calming down.” The children in the study were instead given 10-12 minutes a day to focus on mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or going to a designated “calm spot,” time which was offset with less distractions during learning time.

Whether you are a parent who is interested in seeing how mindfulness might be incorporated in your child’s education or an educator who is interested in techniques that can be used within their own classrooms, here are a few ways mindfulness is used in schools throughout the world:

  • Yoga: Yoga has been implemented in many physical education programs not just as physical exercise, but as a way for students to get in touch with their inner selves. Teachers have attested to yoga helping students to be more mindful and less reactive, as well as helping them to build self-confidence and coordination.
  • Meditation: Classroom mediation, which can take as little as 5 minutes, is believed to help students manage stress better. It’s also been found that structuring this time or presenting it simply as quiet time are equally effective, as long as students are willing participants.
  • Breathing exercises: Typically associated with those suffering from anxiety attacks, breathing exercises bring the mind and body together in ways that help stabilize children’s energy levels.
  • Come Up With a Solution: Here, children present a situation that annoys them to a teacher or authoritarian figure by explaining the situation and their emotions about it. However, children are encouraged to come up with a solution. This then creates a dialogue that makes children believe they have a say in the way situations play out.

Most of our children are fortunate enough not to be bogged down by the issues that youth in high poverty, high crime areas are, but that is not to say they are without their own concerns. Children are emotionally impacted not only by their exposure to crime or poverty, but some are impacted by their desire to succeed, by problems within their family, or by feeling isolated from friends. That’s why it is more important than ever to teach our children how to identify and deal with their emotions, whether it is inside the classroom or out.