Tips to Integrate Mindfulness in Early Childhood Education
In the recent years, schools that have integrated mindfulness programs in their classrooms have reported a number of benefits such as better cognitive performance, improved classroom behaviour, better social skills, lower stress, and even improved academic performance. This is probably the reason why more than ever before, mindfulness has emerged as a necessary component of early children education.
We live in an era where teachers, parents, and even our children are anxious and stressed. In this busy life, our thoughts often compel us to worry about the future. In these trying circumstances, mindfulness education can help us live in the present moment and enjoy whatever life has to offer.
Top educators around the world suggest that children tend to learn best when they are safe, comfortable, and relaxed. This is why all responsible parents and teacher should look to provide their children and students the gift of mindfulness.
There are many different ways to integrate mindfulness in early childhood education as briefly discussed below.
Through Breathing: In a state of anxiety or stress, many of us have the habit of taking shallow breaths into our chests. Mindful breathing is an excellent way to calm the body as well as mind. Practicing mindful breathing involves feeling the gentle rise and fall of the breath by placing the right and left hands on the belly and the chest respectively. Before including their students, however, teachers should first try this out themselves. If a visual representation of the breath is required, teachers may also use a Hoberman Sphere. This simple breathing technique can be practiced at any time during the school day to help kids during difficult situations, before test preparation, or transitions.
Through Sensory Experiences: Sensory experiences play a critical role in helping children relax and stay focused. To get started with this, teachers may try listening to different calming sounds or relaxing music in the classroom. It is also a great idea to take children outside and make them listen to different sounds of nature. There are many simple exercises that help children focus on their sense of touch. For example, tell them to close their eyes and give each of them a sponge or cotton ball in their hand, and let them guess what is in their hands.
Through Guided Imagery: Guided imagery not only develops the imagination of a child, but also helps integrate learning with previously acquired knowledge. For example, while teaching students about the ocean, teachers can encourage students to imagine getting underwater and cruising through the ocean. The same process can be repeated for imaginary journeys to a forest, beach, deserted island, or even into outer space. Please note that every guided relaxation session should end with a few deep breaths.
Through Movement: Movement has always been a natural component of human lives. However, in modern times, it has become a luxury for many of us. By introducing movement into classrooms, teachers can help students learn things naturally. One of the simplest strategies to include movement into school curriculum is via yoga.
If you have more questions about mindfulness or your child’s development in general, please contact our experienced educators at Valley Heights Preschool.