Updated: Nov 23, 2022
"I've heard about the benefits of mindfulness but I just don't have time."
"I am not confident that I have the relevant training or experience to deliver mindfulness."
"I don't have any resources to practice mindfulness."
We get you. But the key here is bite-sized.
Bite-sized mindful moments are quite literally five minutes or less - short enough to be able to squeeze into your busy school day yet restorative enough to create that difference in a child's ability to focus and concentrate. You do not need to be trained in teaching mindfulness - there are so many resources available at your fingertips...
What might these mindful moments include?
Here are 3 simple steps to begin implementing mindful moments, based on work by Kira Willey (Children's Mindfulness and Yoga Expert).
Mindful moments take one-five minutes. Think about introducing one minute before your lessons, or 5 minutes after play-time transitions. All it takes is a few slow deep breaths to self-regulate and re-wire children’s brains for learning.
Children (and teachers) need routine so aim to find a consistent and regular time that suits your classroom. Why not add mindful moments to your daily visual timetable? Many teachers report that either after morning register or after lunch-time play is the best time for their class. If you are a head-teacher could you try one minute consistent mindful moments in your assemblies? Could you try one minute mindfulness in the morning line-up? Could you do a home-time mindful transition e.g. invite the children to think of '3 good things' or '1 thing you are grateful for'? The intention is for bite-sized mindfulness to be embedded in existing routines.
3. CHILD FRIENDLY:
No special equipment is required. We have the mindful tools inside our bodies - our breath. For children to be able to engage, these practices need to be relatable and FUN! Stimulate the imagination and use visual aids, songs and props to incorporate a multi-sensory approach:
Visual aids and props help to make an abstract concept (e.g. the breath) more accessible. For example, by following the 'in-out' direction of a hobermans sphere children can see how our bellies fill with air on the inhale - helping children to take deep belly breaths rather than shallow, nervous chest breaths.
Here is an example of how we can adapt Rainbow Breathing to make things accessible for our auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learners:
Addressing the practical barriers of mindfulness in the classroom:
Our recent instagram poll showed that 44% of school staff members (teachers, TAs, SENCOs etc) selected 'many barriers' to implementing classroom mindfulness (5 mins per day max). I have been thinking about some possible solutions or ways to address some common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness:
MYTH: "Teachers think it is religious or meditation"
FACT: Modern mindfulness definitions are purely secular and non-spiritual. Mindfulness is not a religion, but it does originate from religious roots (Hinduism, Buddhism, Stoicism). You do not need to sit in lotus - this is a meditation posture. Mindfulness is a way of living and we can bring mindful awareness to anything, at any time.
MYTH: ""Mindfulness is a glossy approach to conceal the deeper behaviour issues"
FACT: Mindfulness trains awareness – the very skills we need to actually be present with the existing problems. Mindfulness is not a ‘behaviour remedy’ but it is part of the path to getting closer to the root of some of the issues. When we embed mindfulness in classrooms, we gradually seek to address the emotions that lie beneath the behaviours.
MYTH: "There isn't enough time"
FACT: It all comes back to tips 1 & 2 in this blog: Short and Consistent. Think one-two minutes, same time every day.
BARRIER: "Other teachers don't know what it is"
SOLUTION: Sadly mindfulness is not part of teacher training programmes. But, you do not need specific training to deliver bite-sized mindfulness. The resources are here ready to go - so if you're reading this blog this is your opportunity. Check out the FREE resources / videos, share and spread the word!
These practical barriers stem from the need for a whole-school approach. The Kindness Curriculum has a mission to empower schools to embed mindfulness into their everyday routines. We really appreciate your feedback because it helps us to ensure our mindfulness programmes continue to adapt according to the experiences of our community. It is evident that those who answered the survey are advocates for children's wellbeing. We see you and you are doing an incredible job.
Why mindfulness in the classroom?
The number of research projects investigating mindfulness has grown exponentially over the last decade, and there is now good evidence demonstrating its benefits and applications in the classroom.
Visit Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) for a comprehensive list of research papers outlining the evidence base.
If you would like to engage your school senior team in this work, I recommend this Evidence-Based Guide/eBook (Adrian Bethune) as a useful and robust reference to share.
There are so many resources/videos available online to get started TOMORROW. Here are some of my favourites...
The Kindness Curriculum TV: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCle6aHETNwl2TsNxfQaSu9Q/featured
The Mental Health Teacher:
The Emotions Toolbox
Keen to join Kind Minds?
Kind Minds is our online mindfulness and social-emotional learning curriculum. Nurture calmer, kinder and happier children using our 4-pillared approach: Concentrate, Calm, Connect and Create. Use the code KINDCOUPON to get £20 off!
With Love and Kindness,
Laura, The Kindness Curriculum