Mindfulness in the Classroom made Simple with 3 Quick Tips!
Updated: Aug 4
If your students are tired of the Mindfulness Craze, discover 3 quick tips to hook them in! You CAN integrate Mindfulness in the Classroom!
Mindfulness is EVERYWHERE we look.
At first, I was annoyed by it, because I was already trying to integrate it into my life but then the craze hit and people started acting like it was a brand new concept.
Let's face it, you can't walk into many gift shops or home stores without seeing the mindfulness buzz words stitched on pillows and burned into wooden signs with fancy font. Large chains are making BIG money off this "new" mindfulness concept that's been around for centuries.
It's big for a reason. Even the US government is in on the movement and is publishing articles about the many health benefits of mindfulness.
As school counselors and teachers, we know this. We've done the research and understand the benefits, but how do we get our students engaged in the movement?
The question I consistently ask whenever I'm seeking a solution always starts with:
If I believed it were possible...
If I believed it were possible to get my students to "buy in" to a consistent mindfulness practice, what would have to be true?
A few answers popped into my head when I asked this question...
#1: They would need to start young when they still think anything you teach them is cool.
The younger the students are when you start integrating mindfulness in the classroom, the easier the sell will be. Not only because they won't see it as "cringy" like the middle schoolers might, but you will start creating a habit. The habit becomes a way of life if you use it consistently.
With this in mind, it's important to carry it over to other parts of their lives. Repetition is key! For example, the strategies I use in my office with small groups or individuals are those strategies they've learned in class. They get practice when they truly are experiencing strong emotions. In addition to this I share the information with their classroom teachers and parents. When I come back in for a guidance lesson the following week, I ask if anyone experienced any strong feelings over the past week and how they were able to calm themselves down?
As they approach middle school, this will have become a common practice that actually WORKS.
Is it too late or are you currently only working with middle schoolers?
That's okay...what I do in this case is let the students know that I need help coming up with lessons that will teach elementary students mindfulness strategies. I ask middle schoolers what mindfulness is and how it's used. Then I have them help me research some fun mindfulness activities that we can take to the lower level grades.
#2: They would have to understand the benefits of mindfulness in a way that makes sense for them...
Before kids will engage in mindfulness activities they need to know what's in it for them!
I typically start on the first day in the classroom and say:
Who sometimes feels really worried, scared, sad or mad about something?
Hands usually fly up, if not, I make sure my own hand flies up...
Next, I identify those feelings as "strong feelings" and let them know that at the beginning of each class we will get to learn a new "mindfulness strategy" that will help calm our strong thoughts and feelings.
I ask who would like to know how to be able to calm themselves down when they're having these strong feelings. Then I move onto the next part of the process which is...
Once we complete a brief mindfulness activity, I will ask the students:
How would this activity help calm strong thoughts and feelings?
This question will encourage the students to make a connection between the mindfulness activity and emotional management.
#3: The activities would need to be fun and engaging...
I don't know about you, but when something is boring or feels like a chore, I don't want to do it either! As you probably know, mindfulness does not HAVE to be a still meditation practice...thankfully, or I'd be in big trouble. It takes a great amount of willpower for me to sit still, shut up, and just focus.
First things first, if you haven't utilized this free tool: www.wheelofnames.com I suggest you get right to it! I use it for every lesson and it greatly increases student engagement! The wheels you create will be saved to your google account. Make sure you customize them by choosing your own colors, center picture on the wheel and fun music!
I start by adding a number of mindfulness strategies onto the wheel and spin it to reveal the first one. Once we have completed each mindfulness activity (one per class/week), I then create a new wheel with student names and I restart my "mindfulness wheel". Then the student it lands on may either spin the wheel or choose their favorite mindfulness activity so far and help me lead the class with it.
Okay, so where are all of the engaging activities???
In my Mindfulness Squares digital lesson there are 20 different activities to choose from so that you can implement mindfulness in the classroom any time! The activities are brief and fun!
My Worry No More lesson includes mindfulness strategies for students in both elementary and middle school. This lesson includes cheat sheets for a quick reference, student worksheets and classroom lessons.
If you are able integrate mindfulness in the classroom AND use it consistently as a preventative measure, you will be providing your students tools and strategies they will have for LIFE!
Please comment below to share YOUR favorite mindfulness strategies, either ones I've included or some of your own! I'm always looking for more tools to put in my toolbox!