Integrating Mindfulness Strategies into the Early Childhood Curriculum

 What is Mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is a whole body-mind state of awareness that involves ‘tuning in’ to the present moment, with openness and curiosity, instead of ‘tuning out’ from experience.

  • Being fully awake to life
  • Being aware and undistracted in the present moment 
  • Focusing attention on the present, rather than thinking about the past, or worrying about the future 

Benefits of Using Mindfulness in the Classroom 

There are many benefits resulting from the implementation of mindfulness in the classroom for both students and teachers. Mindfulness strategies ultimately, foster stronger mental health and focused attention. Four benefits of integrating mindfulness into the curriculum are as follows; 

  • Reduces stress - Mindfulness builds resilience by giving children skills to better cope with stressful situations.  
  • Improves attention - Mindfulness increases connectivity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is linked to improved attention, memory processing, and decision making abilities.
  • Stronger emotional regulation - Mindfulness increases children's ability to self-regulate their emotions, especially difficult emotions, such as fear and anger, through breathing and other grounding techniques. 
  • Improved capacity for compassion and empathy - Mindfulness improves empathy, or the ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling, which improves children's awareness of others and helps them to build positive relationships. 

 

Examples of Mindfulness Strategies 

  • Mindful Poses - Mindful poses are simple, fun body posees that help students feel strong, brave, and happy. Two examples of mindful poses include The Super Man and The Wonder Woman. 
  • Spidey Senses - Spidey senses are a fun and easy way to introduce young students to paying attention to the present. To implement, instruct students to channel Spider-man or "turn on their spidey senses", the super focused senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch that Spider-man uses to keep tabs on the world around him. 
  • Safari / Mindfulness Walk - This activity includes another fun way to help kids learn how to be mindful. This excercise turns an average walk outside into an exciting new adventure. To implement, tell students they are going on a safari and their goal is to notice as many birds, bugs, creppy crawlies, and any other animals they can. Through this activity, students learn how to be present in the world around them. 
  • Mindful Breathing - This exercise helps students focus on each breath they take. To implement, have students focus on their breath, imagine a sailboat that rises and falls with each breath, envision their breath as a color, and/or pretend they are a fish breathing air for the first time. 

 

Ways to Integrate Mindfulness into the Curriculum 

Just as you would take time to focus on the math or reading curriculum, it is important to set aside time to focus on mindfulness aspects. Following are various ways to integrate mindfulness into the curriculum. It is important to recognize what mindfulness strategies work for each classroom and the unique students that make it special. 

  • Five Minute Exercises - These five minute exercises could be done at any point in the school day. Usually, they focus on counting breaths, focusing on the sensation of breathing, and/or visualizing thoughts and feelings. The goal of these excercises is to train student's attention, quiet their thoughts, and regulate their emotions. 
  • Deep Quieting - The teacher could take the role of ending each of his or her classes with deep quieting. Deep quieting is centered around around a silent, dark room where student's are focused on nothing but the present. It is important for students to know, if you can quiet yourself and get yourself to a place where your mind is settled, that is a great tool to have. 
  • Mindful Meeting - Mindful meetings can be implemented at various parts of the school day, but are most recommended at times when students feel most overwhelmed by transitions or in preparation for a long period of focused learning. Some of these times may include the beginning of the school day, before/after lunch and recess, and/or before heading home for the day. Mindful meetings are characterized by quiet times with a faciliator guiding students through a short story. The focus is on being present in the moment along with, making connections to being compassionate, empathetic, kind individuals. 

Resources 

www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/08/mindfulness-education-schools-meditation/402469/

  • Through this article, individuals could read more about mindfulness in action and the benefits it provides for students and teachers. It would be helpful for teachers to visit this article, to understand the logic and importance behind implementing mindfulness in the classroom. 

www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/mindfulness

  • This site explains even more benefits connected with promoting mindfulness into the classroom. Teachers can find an extended benefit's list to better understand the importance of mindfulness strategies. 

positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/

  • This source details specific mindfulness strategies that could be implemented into the classroom. Teachers should visit this site to find examples that could be replicated in their early childhood classroom. 

www.teachstarter.com/blog/classroom-mindfulness-activities-for-children/

  • Visit this resource to find more information of specific strategies to help implement mindfulness into your everyday curriculum. Early childhood teachers should visit here to find over 15 detailed examples of ways to integrate mindfulness activities. 

childmind.org/article/mindfulness-in-the-classroom/

  • This article provides specific examples of how schools have integrated mindfulness into their own daily curriculums. Teachers should visit this site to learn about a way mindfulness has been implemented to learn how they can modify it for the benefit of their own students.