Inviting mindfulness into the daily lives of children increases their capacity to become still and feel good about themselves. Mindfulness based practices are simple yet profound and create a solid foundation on which to build self worth, compassion and understanding. Although there is extensive research citing the many benefits, it can seem daunting as a teacher to begin to navigate this practice particularly if you haven't had any personal experience.
This audio file is a really good place to start: Audio File
Listening to this will give you an insight into some of the tools and resources available to use in the classroom but will also help you to focus on your breath, a fundamental step in getting started and establishing a mindfulness practice.
Explore the resources
Now that you have a taste for what's involved, you can explore all the resources available. Here's a few techniques you can get started with in the classroom:
Incorporate a Mindful Moment or breathing pause into each day.
Choose a time – perhaps at the beginning of the day or after a break.
Incorporate it into EACH day so that it becomes part of the routine of the day.
Stretch and Smile
Invite the children to stand tall. Raise the right arm above the head and s-t-r-e-t-c-h...
Raise the left arm above the head and
You might invite them to hold that stretch...
Then invite them to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the right corner of the mouth up towards the right ear
And s-t-r-e-t-c-h the left corner of the mouth up towards the left ear
Then invite them to hold the stretch….
Breathe for Art
Prior to doing art invite the children to close their eyes and take five slow deep breaths... At the end of this breathing pause invite them to quietly imagine what they might draw, the colours, the shapes and the texture. As they conclude the art session take another breathing pause of five slow deep breaths.
Sounds of Silence
Take a silent moment between subjects – invite children to listen to the sounds outside the room... the sounds inside the room... the sound of the breath... the sound of the heart beating....
For even more great resources, check out the Mindfulness Matters website
Get the CDs
CDs for kids include The Zone, Still Space and Spás Síochanta Suaimhneach which are perfect for use in the classroom. The content of the CDs is based on the SPHE strands of Myself and Self-identity. All of the tracks are guided step by step with Ann and Derval’s relaxing Irish accents. The Zone’s playful style of visualisation, affirmation and breathing creates a positive and peaceful atmosphere in the classroom and has the added bonus of improving children’s attention.
Still Space focuses on kindness, compassion and useful thinking skills thus providing children with valuable life skills. Spás Síochanta Suaimhneach, a direct translation of Still Space, is a wonderful learning resource for schools where Irish is the preferred language. It also helps the integration of Irish into SPHE. It includes a phonetic Irish English dictionary to assist learning and the promotion of the Irish language.
Many schools throughout the country are using Mindfulness Matters CDs daily and have reported that it is something the children look forward to. In line with international research Irish children are reaping the benefits of mindfulness in the classroom. Using the CDs in the classroom also gives the teacher an opportunity to relax with the children.
You can download any of the CDs here
Order the CDs for delivery to your school here
Sign up for training
There are a couple of options when it comes to training. It'll depend on what you hope to achieve and also whether your school wishes to take a whole-school approach to the integration of mindfulness.
The first option is to sign up for a Summer Course. These can be done online and in person in both the Mayo and Sligo Education Centres. This is a 20 hour course for teachers which includes mindfulness, relaxation and building self-esteem. It has been referred to by teachers as 'the perfect end to a busy school year'. It aligns with the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme for schools and offers the opportunity to explore incorporating simple mindfulness based approaches into daily life for both teachers and children. The course provides abundant resources for use in the classroom.
Once you've signed up to start Mindfulness Matters on ChangeX we'll help you get signed up for this.
Introductory course in your school
These courses can be tailored to your school's needs and provide teachers with simple techniques to reduce stress and to encourage calm and harmony in the classroom. They provide ‘time out’ for teachers to reflect on their personal and professional self-care and to experience the value of mindfulness as they re-connect with the essence of mindful teaching, thought regulation and calm. As teachers learn mindfulness and wellbeing techniques they also experience new skills and ideas to facilitate the introduction of mindfulness to children in the classroom. Many schools are requesting self-care for teachers and are inviting Mindfulness Matters to facilitate this. Sessions are tailored to suit each school and staff team needs. They can be a full day session or shorter two to three-hour sessions to suit the staff group.
Once you've signed up to start Mindfulness Matters on ChangeX we'll help you decide which course is right for you and get you signed up.
Establish a routine
Once you're comfortable with the techniques and the children are reaping the benefits of a mindfulness practice, it's good to establish a daily routine so that there is space in every day for calm and reflection. Whether this involves the CDs or some of the techniques outlined in Step 2, it doesn't matter. A consistent and comfortable routine will be key to effectiveness but don't worry once you start it's likely the kids will also be reminding you to do it!