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What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present and maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environments. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we don’t judge our thoughts and feelings when we do look more deeply into them. When your pupils are mindful they are focusing in a relaxed, easy way.
The fundamental concept of mindfulness colouring is that the act of colouring in pre-drawn patterns and illustrations provides an opportunity to suspend our inner dialogue and engage in an activity that disregards the flow of negative thoughts that dominate our lives.
For children, it helps increase their awareness of the world around them and their place in it. Colouring can also enhance development; help express themselves and develop their motor skills (strengthening of muscles). In addition, mindfulness colouring means that your pupils are paying full attention to the task at hand, slowing down and really noticing what they are doing. Mindfulness Colouring is the opposite of rushing or multitasking.
The best way to show how mindfulness works is to practice it in class. One of the ways to do this is through breathing exercises, there are numerous breathing techniques that be used to increase mindfulness.
These are some we recommend trying in the classroom.
- Heartbeat Exercise:
Pupils are instructed to take notice of their breathing and the tempo of their heartbeat.
Encourage your pupils to focus on naturally, breathing and how it feels. As your pupils monitor their heartbeat and breathing, they will become more mindful of how their body feels in these times. After the exercise, take time to go around the class and ask how they felt and what they learnt during the process.
- Pin-Wheel Breathing
This activity will help aid your pupils in taking deep breaths.
Step 1: With a pin-wheel for each pupil inform your class to sit with their back straight and body relaxed.
Step 2: Now, your pupils can blow on their pin-wheel using long deep breaths, they also need to keep in mind how they feel. Ask do you feel calm and relaxed? Is it easy or hard to sit still?
Step 3: Inform your class that now they are going to try something different- using short, quick breaths to make the pin-wheel move. Ask again how does their body feel now? Do they feel the same way after breathing quickly as they did after breathing slowly?
Step 4: Next is to blow on the pin-wheel normally. How does this feel?
Step 5: Reflect on this activity with your class, what did they each notice about how the different ways of breathing make them feel?
- 5 Star Breathing
When a pupil is stressed, anxious or worried it is important to reinforce mindfulness as a part of the techniques to cope and calm themselves down.
Using the 5 Star Breathing technique shows how pupils can calm themselves by following the star around breathing in and out and concentrating on this alone and not their worries.
Use the 5 Star Breathing downloadable worksheet for your pupils to use when they have negative thoughts or worries.
Meditation builds upon concentration and is used to rest the mind, body and spirit. The time and frequency of meditating can vary for different people and different practices. Health experts recommend, for different age groups, the implementation of meditation to have various timing and depths.
- Nursery Children: A few minutes a day
- Primary School Children: 3-10 minutes twice a day
- Teens and Adults: 5- 45 minutes per day or more based on preference
Incorporate meditation at the end of the day with your class, this can help them wind down after a long day of school this can help them reflect on their progress within the day and deal with negative and positive emotions that may arise.
Remind primary school children and older that to take a few deep breaths before answering a difficult question at school, taking a test, or before a big performance. Use the 5-star calming technique with meditation if needed.
With repeated meditation throughout the weeks, pupils can learn to manage strong emotions, become more in-tune with themselves improving their own mindfulness.
How am I feeling today...
Journaling can aid in identifying the emotions and feelings individuals can be experiencing at specific points throughout the day.
To promote confidence and higher self-esteem in children, allow them to identify the best qualities through writing. As they reflect on their talents and successes, they’ll feel inspired and encouraged to go out and try new things.
10 prompts to help build your pupils self-esteem and confidence.
- What is your greatest talent?
- What is the best compliment you have ever received?
- Write about a person you admire. What qualities do you have in common with this person?
- When you are confident, what emotions do you experience?
- Write about something you were afraid of trying. How did it feel afterwards?
- Name three qualities you love about yourself.
- Write a poem that describes the feeling of confidence.
- Why is it important to congratulate people who have done well?
- Write about a time when you helped another person. How did it feel?
- Write about a time you made a great choice.