Mindfulness means being present in the moment with your thoughts and feelings without making judgements. It is being aware of what is happening but not being overwhelmed. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can help you feel calmer, happier, and be more in tune with yourself. People of all ages and abilities can practice mindfulness, including kids and young adults. Some people practice mindfulness for different reasons, too. If a child gets nervous before a test, it can help calm them down and regain focus. If a young adult struggles with controlling their anger, it can help them control emotions. And if someone just wants to feel a bit happier (who doesn’t?), it can help take away negative thoughts. Overall, practicing mindfulness can be helpful in so many different ways.
There are many different ways mindfulness can be practiced. Some strategies include practicing slow breathing, mindful observance, mindful listening, walking meditation, yoga, or even mindful coloring. If you need specific materials to start teaching mindfulness, consider this ready-to-go mindfulness activities guide. The mindfulness activities include listening to music, coloring, making crafts, and much more. Best of all, activities are specifically tailored to kids and young adults.
Here are the 10 best times to practice mindfulness in the classroom:
1. At the beginning of a morning meeting. Start the day together with a positive intention. This helps kids to get centered for the day ahead while leaving any emotional challenges they have at the door. It’s a great way to begin a fresh start.
2. After lunch or recess to help bring the class back together. It’s easy to say that lunch and recess are two of the biggest sensory-overloads kids experience all day. Rather than trying to fight that, turn the day around by meditating for a few minutes. It can become a signal that “we are back in the classroom now”.
3. Before high-stakes testing to help focus and calm the mind. So many kids and young adults get extremely stressed over high-stakes testing. Even the ones who don’t say anything may be experiencing a high level of anxiety and worry. Spending a few minutes mindfully relaxing can help kids de-stress and do their best on the test.
4. In small group counseling sessions to promote relaxation. Many kids and young adults just do not know HOW to relax. Much of their time is spent at school, playing sports, playing games, being online, and checking their phone. Unfortunately, none of those activities promote relaxation. Arrange a small group of kids that meets on a regular basis to practice mindfulness strategies. Anyone can do this, including a special education teacher, counselor, psychologist, social worker, or even regular education teacher. By setting up this small group to practice mindfulness, you can explicitly teach these relaxation skills that so many kids desperately need to cope with stressors in their lives.
5. In between class transitions to provide a mental break. Transitioning from one task to another can throw an entire class off. Transitions provide the perfect natural break to practice mindfulness and relaxations.
6. At the beginning of a resource class or independent work session. One of the greatest elements to mindfulness is that it can help clear the mind. Dedicate five minutes or so to practicing mindfulness just before an independent working session and the benefits will last.
7. Small group counseling sessions to teach strategies for anxiety. Kids and young adults with anxiety need to learn coping strategies to help them through their challenges. Mindfulness and meditation are some of the best ways to deal with anxiety. Remember to try several different techniques to help find ones that work best for individual students. Also, note that many kids struggle with “invisible anxiety” and may benefit from these strategies without ever having the actual anxiety label documented.
8. Let partners or small groups practice before a test or quiz. Any type of assessment can be overwhelming for a number of students. Practicing mindfulness techniques just before a test or quiz can help kids get their thoughts together and feel more confident before they take on an assessment.
9. Just before an assembly or guest speaker. Big assemblies can be extra-challenging for many kids. Some students may feel anxious about the change in schedule, while others may have an extreme difficulty in keeping their thoughts to themselves for that whole time. Try practicing some mindfulness and relaxation strategies before such an effort to reduce challenges.
10. Anytime (just for no reason) to show that mindfulness can be done anytime and anywhere. While there are many times that are ideal to practice mindfulness strategies, it’s important to recognize that you can practice it anywhere and anytime! Use it when the class is getting a bit loud, a group of students are having trouble focusing, or you just need to set a calm tone. Sometimes just taking a mindfulness break can do the trick. And best of all, you don’t really need a reason to do it.
Use this Mindfulness Activities resource to teach and practice mindfulness with kids and young adults right away!