Mindfulness has been a growing trend with kids and young adults, and I have been a huge supporter from the beginning. About ten years ago, I started practicing yoga, which introduced me to the benefits of deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness in my own life. Without a doubt, it has made a huge difference for me, so I love the idea of sharing some of those same strategies and practices with kids and young adults. Today, I have heard that many schools are getting on board with meditation rooms instead of detention and daily mindfulness practice during morning meetings. This just makes sense, so I wanted to share more about what mindfulness is and how you can practice it with your learners.
What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is a practice that helps us to focus on the present, rather than the past or the present. Learning to be more present in the moment is a critical skill, especially in today’s fast-paced world. When we work on this practice, we can actually improve our focus, strengthen our emotional control, increase positive feelings, and bring calm to our everyday lives. It’s important to note that learning to be mindful doesn’t happen after one activity or lesson. The idea is that it is a “practice” because it is something we are always improving.
When Can We Practice Mindfulness? Mindfulness can really be practice anytime! Some of the best times to practice mindfulness include right before a big test, after a noisy lunch, before or after a transition from one activity to another, or just in the morning as a positive start to the day. The biggest benefits to mindfulness are seen when it becomes a regular practice. So, try to incorporate it either once a day or once a week – whatever works best for you and your learners! Feel free to read up more on 10 Best Times to Practice Mindfulness in the Classroom.
Remember, that you don’t need to be a mindfulness expert to start the practice with your students. Let them know you are learning and growing, too! If you notice that mindfulness is something you’re interested in practicing with your learners, but still need extra support, I’ve got you covered. You can use my set of Mindfulness Activities filled with lessons, task cards, breathe boards, and crafts centered around helping kids become more mindful.
Here are five FREE mindfulness activities to help get you started today:
#1 Mindfulness Breathe Boards. One of the most important components to mindfulness is learning to control our breathing. Sometimes this can be abstract for students, so these mindfulness breathe boards serve as concrete visuals to help. Just have students trace their finger around the visual while breathing in and out. This should be done multiple times. Best of all, these breathe boards can be placed on a student’s desk, in a binder, in a calm down area, or anywhere else a student might need them.
#2 Mindful Coloring. Drawing and coloring are often calming activities to begin with, of course. You can use these free coloring pages or just find any coloring books of your own. I often let my students choose from a huge pile of coloring books so they had more buy-in when practicing together. Start by explaining your students will be practicing mindfulness while coloring. It’s important to highlight that if students feel like they made a mistake, they should just breathe in and out and let it go. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment, making judgments about what is good or bad. Let students choose their coloring page and give them access to the coloring materials you choose. Encourage the students to color quietly on their own. You can dim the lights and play calming music while they color.
#3 Practice Guided Meditations. Guided meditations are a short script or video clip you can play that helps students relax their minds and bodies. There are many free guided meditation videos for kids on YouTube and other video platforms. Have students sit comfortably or lie down on a rug. Have them close their eyes and practice their deep breathing. Turn the lights off for an added calming effect! As they get comfortable, start the guided meditation and let it play through. Kids might feel silly at first, but with just a few minutes, they will notice the calming effect this meditation can bring!
#4 Positive Affirmations. There is not much else better than positive affirmations! Teaching kids to read positive affirmations aloud to themselves or just in their heads can bring a sense of calm while also increasing confidence. It’s a win-win! Use this free list of positive affirmations. Have students circle or highlight the positive affirmations they love the most. Have students read these to themselves or make index cards with their favorite sayings.
#5 Mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1. This is one of my favorite strategies for practicing mindfulness because it can be done anywhere and anytime. You don’t need any special props! Have students sit comfortably and just look around the room. Tell them to use their senses to observe the immediate environment. Slowly go through the list. Have them identify 5 things that they can see, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can small, and 1 thing they can taste. Take your time with each and remind students to absorb the feelings they experience.
Give one or two strategies a try! It might take some time, but it’s wonderful to see students really getting into their own mindfulness practices. Of course, mindfulness is always helpful for adults, too!