Mindfulness is a buzzword continuing to gain momentum in the early education landscape, not only to use in the learning environment with the children but to use mindfulness techniques to reduce stress for teachers/caregivers. The New America post "If We Care About Early Education, We Can't Ignore Teacher Well-Being" points directly to mindfulness training as an opportunity to "reduce depression, increase self-regulation, and improve health" for child care providers. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve mental, behavioral and physical outcomes for children who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACES).
So What Is Mindfulness?
The psychology definition on dictionary.com is: "a technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them."
How does that translate for us? Mindfulness = Awareness.
YogiApproved.com says that mindfulness can be a big word for kids to understand but I think it can be a big concept for us adults to understand too. Especially, trying to put it in practice. Keep it simple is what the post "15 Fantastic Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids" tells us to do. Mindfulness = Awareness. It is the practice of stopping and noticing what is around us. That seems simple enough.
What's the Best Part?
You don't have to be in a yoga position to do it. I mean, doing yoga is also great, but the practice of yoga doesn't have to be connected to being aware of the sights, sounds and sensations happening to and around you. Some suggestions in 15 Fantastic Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids include:
- Expressing gratitude at mealtime,
- Crafting and talking about the smell of the paper or where the materials being used came from,
- Thinking about how your body feels during physical activity;
- Pay attention to taste while eating - (the raisin activity is fascinating).
These are just a few examples of how to teach kids mindfulness but I am going to start trying to practice many of these myself. Some easy to understand and apply mindfulness techniques are the perfect way to better understand such an abstract idea.
What do you think about mindfulness for yourself or your program? Share in the comments!
- 15 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids: http://www.yogiapproved.com/om/ways-to-teach-mindfulness-to-kids/
- The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing the Adverse Effects of Childhood Stress and Trauma: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5368427/#B43-children-04-00016
- Adverse Childhood Experiences, 3 Things Caregivers Should Know: http://www.childcareinfo.com/blog/2015/7/28/adverse-child-experiences-3-things-for-caregivers-to-know?rq=aces
- Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout and teaching efficacy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3855679/
- If We Care About Early Learning, We Cannot Ignore Teacher Well Being: https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/edcentral/teacher-well-being/