When I speak to educators about mindfulness I can see their eyes light up, however I can also detect their exhaustion at the thought of trying to fit yet another thing into their already overloaded timetables… the last thing teachers need is another “essential” program!
Mindfulness is not something to do before you have to get back to real teaching and learning! On the contrary, Mindfulness is “a way” of living, learning, loving and leading! The practice of mindfulness has the potential to transform simple daily routines into opportunities to develop the inner compass of self awareness!
Mindfulness takes what teachers expect from their students such as concentration, confidence, to pay attention, to learn and be kind and shows them ”how” to do this from the inside out. In KindKids, students develop these mindfulness skills and learn ”how” to be restful and resilient, ”how” to be generous and kind, ”how” to manage challenging emotions and ”how” to be choiceful versus habitually reactive.
Mindfulness empowers teachers and students to manage challenging behaviours and difficult issues such as bullying. Instead of resisting or running from difficulties, mindfulness empowers principals, teachers and students alike, with the skills to intentionally turn towards difficult emotions and approach challenging problems with openness, kindness and curiosity. With practice, mindfulness develops just like a muscle and becomes the new brave!
Daily practice is an invitation for staff and students to come together in their “sameness”. In this way we remind each other that we are ALL teachers and we are all here to learn from and respect one another. To begin every KindKids lesson I invite a student to lead the mindfulness practice. During these moments I always point out to the children that they are my teachers…truly the gems of wisdom that I hear on a daily basis!!
In essence, all areas of school life become opportunities for mindfulness practise. There are countless practical ways to begin to integrate mindfulness at school:
It may simply look like a mindful minute in staff meetings, classrooms and at assemblies; a minute to pause from busy schedules, let go of pressing issues just for a moment and arrive into the peace of the present moment.
Mindfulness can easily be integrated into daily classroom routines, so a normal school bell becomes a positive trigger to breathe mindfully, notice body sensations or observe an emotion, growing the space between stimulus and response. Isn’t this the response-ability we all want for our children and for ourselves!
Reported one parent in a recently published article in Sunday Style Magazine :
“My daughter has used some of the techniques in response to incidents in the playground,” says the mum of one eight-year-old pupil.
“She’s understanding the importance of taking responsibility for herself. She’s also reminded me not to get caught up in things.”
In our fast-paced society I believe it’s really important for children to learn how to slow down, to know how to stop and sense their inner world and savour the present moment. When teachers consciously create the regular space to be still, then not only does the perceived value of the practice increase but so do the benefits. Such benefits include: better focus and attention; improved impulse control; increased calm and contentment; increased empathy and understanding of others; greater sense of confidence and choicefulness.