As we prepared for the new school year, it is likely that you’ve spent some time considering the arrangement of your classroom environment. Perhaps you were able to purchase new books, toys, and other materials for the children to explore. Maybe you even spent time with other teachers in your program learning about the individuals needs and characteristics of the children who you will be learning and growing with over the next 9-12 months.
In addition to these important steps, it is also worthwhile to consider how you might incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine.
Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
According to the APA , some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
- Stress reduction
- Improved working memory
- Improved focus
- Decrease in emotional reactivity
- Improved emotional regulation
Being mindful requires intentional focus and practice. In many ways, young children are not developmentally prepared to engage in formal mindfulness practices. On the other hand, there are times, when deeply engaged in play, that children appear to be living fully in the present moment.
There are several ways that early childhood educators can create environments that incorporate opportunities for mindfulness with the children in their care. Mindfulness practices in early education consist of a mixture of activities that promote full engagement in the present moment and helping children tune into (or bring awareness to) their bodies, emotions, and thinking.
It is important to note; practicing mindfulness in the classroom is not about teaching children about a particular religious or spiritual traditions. While the practice does have ties to several eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, the act of being mindful is not a religious practice. It is recommended that any teachings related to mindfulness focus on the mind-body awareness, rather than on metaphysical or religious concepts.
Check out the lists below for ways to create a mindful classroom for children of different ages. Also, the CCEI course, SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings provides many detailed mindfulness activity ideas – check it out today!
For Mindful Classroom Infant and Toddler Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.
For Mindful Classroom Preschool Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.
For Mindful Classroom School-Age Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.
For Mindful Classroom Director’s Corner Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.