Mindfulness is about paying attention to a particular thing – a thought, sensation, object, or movement- and learning to sustain that attention. Mindfulness exercise for children allows them to have a breather in a day filled with activities and learning. Students at Astor Year 4 class practice mindfulness daily after outdoor playtime. This allows them to relax, think positively, focus on breathing, and settle their thoughts.
Mindfulness in the Classroom
Students can be faced with negative emotions such as stress, fatigue and even boredom. Mindfulness is a simple but incredible way to reduce stress while increasing focus and self-regulation.
“Mindfulness is a powerful tool that supports children in calming themselves, focusing their attention, and interacting effectively with others, all critical skills for functioning well in school and in life,” said Amy Saltzman, M.D., director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education.
In the year 4 classroom, Astor students practice breathing exercises and mindful listening. We set the intention of being calm and positive. Students take a few minutes each day to ‘check in’ on themselves and reflect on their day. Children found it refreshing and it allowed them to connect with themselves.
Mindfulness at Home
Practising mindfulness at home can start with simple activities. It can begin by allowing children to connect with their environment. They can take a ‘mindful stop’ where they pause and observe their surroundings. Tell them to observe three things around them that they haven’t observed before. Children will turn on their ‘spidey senses’ and focus on sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch that Spiderman uses. This allows them to pause, focus and be present in the moment.
Star breathing exercise
Get them to hold out one hand with all five fingers apart, like a star. Using a finger on the other hand as a pointer, they trace up and down each finger. They should trace around their whole hand slowly. As they trace up each finger, they breathe in and as they trace down the other side, they breathe out.
This exercise is a great way to slow breathing or racing thoughts.
Playing with balloons
Get children to try and keep the balloon off the ground for as long as possible. However, they have to move slowly and gently, imagining that the balloon is fragile.
The body scan is a key practice in mindfulness, and is easy to teach to children. Have them lie down on their back on a comfortable surface and close their eyes. Then tell them to squeeze every muscle in their body as tight as they can, squishing their toes and feet, their hands into fists and making their arms and legs hard like stone. After a few seconds, have them release all their muscles and relax for a few minutes.
Practising mindfulness in school and at home can benefit children. Try our mindfulness exercises and let us know what you think.