At Brooksfield School, we teach more than just classic school subjects like math and writing. We want our students to feel more confident and capable all-around, and one way we do this is through teaching them mindfulness skills. Mindfulness is the process of concentrating on only one thing and remaining peaceful in the present moment. It allows people to not worry about other things that may be going on around them or thoughts that may be building up and adding stress to their lives. We find mindfulness especially crucial for young children who are still developing and learning more about the world, which is why it is so important to us and our learning philosophy.
Mindfulness is not something strange or complicated, but rather something that anyone can easily do at almost any time. That said, it does take a bit of extra concentration and care, and you can not just force someone to be more mindful. Everyone has this ability, even if they must put in the effort to narrow their thoughts to the present. Just like how everyone has the ability to be mindful, everyone can also benefit from mindfulness. Mindfulness can become part of your daily routine and make you a more careful and thoughtful person, which can also affect your motivation, stress level, and so many other aspects of your life. You can become a better problem-solver, be more creative, and even improve your physical and mental health through mindfulness, which is why Brooksfield School considers it such a necessary process to learn early in life.
How Does Mindfulness Education Work?
So obviously, mindfulness can be great for all sorts of people in many different situations, but how exactly does mindfulness work? The approach you take for mindfulness, or concentrating on the present and only thinking about one thing at a time, can be different depending on the person. Some things, however, can help anyone. First, you should find a quiet place without any distractions where you can be comfortable. Sit with good posture, but do not tense your body too much. Then, relax. You can concentrate on the sensations around you, like what you feel, what you hear, and if anything, in particular, is making you feel uneasy. This can help you evaluate what does and does not matter. Let your thoughts come and go, and simply think about your breathing instead. Pay attention to one thing at once, whether it be your breath, a word, or a sensation, but rather than stressing about it and forcing yourself to do so, dwell on it until it goes away, and something else appears more pertinent in the moment.
Mindfulness has been proven to be especially useful for children, which is why we find it so important to incorporate it into our curriculum. Though it can feel like a natural process once you get used to it, mindfulness likely feels strange at first to children, who like to do many exciting things at once, but there are a variety of activities that can help them feel more comfortable with this. Here are a few examples of mindfulness activities that you can practice at home with your children:
- Poses: Children can pose like “Superman” (legs apart, fists clenched, arms reaching high past their head, looking up) or “Wonder woman” (legs wide, hands on hips, looking into the distance with their chin up). They can think about what they are doing with their body and feel more confident and strong by considering themselves as similar to superheroes.
- Blindfold taste tests: By tasting a portion of food and focusing on all the sensations that come with it, as if they are tasting it for the first time, children will likely put aside other thoughts and really think about the moment. Even though it seems more like a game than a meditation to them, it will likely calm them and put aside any stress they felt before.
- Watching a Pinwheel: As simple as a pinwheel may seem, children are often fascinated by them. By focusing on the colors, the feel, the wind in the air, or the spin beginning to slowing down, your child will set aside everything else they are thinking about and concentrate on these sensations.
The Calming Power of Mindfulness Education
One way in which we have seen that mindfulness can be especially helpful for children is for calming them down when they get stressed or worried, therefore making them more level-headed and prevent temper tantrums. Teachers and parents alike can teach children how to really feel and identify their emotions, and then act based on an analysis of what they feel. This is done through an intensity scale. When Brooksfield students are clearly getting upset or on-edge, we respond by calmly asking them to identify where they are on the scale. Once they have figured this out, they can decide where on the scale they would rather be and work to calm themselves done through remaining in the moment and focusing on what is going on around them at that time rather than the overwhelming emotions they may have felt. Students not only are able to learn more because they keep their feelings under control, but they are able to learn valuable life skills from this process, such as how to respond to others and not be overwhelmed by life.
Mindfulness allows our students to be more comfortable with their surroundings and understand more about how they are feeling and why, and we feel like this is integral to academic success, as well as generating important life skills. We encourage all parents to research mindfulness techniques and the many benefits that can come from teaching them to your children, and we also hope that you will try them for yourself! We will also continue to explore them as we integrate mindfulness into our curriculum. We have witnessed firsthand how mindfulness has improved our students’ concentration, patience, interpersonal skills, and more, and we look forward to hearing about how your child responds to mindfulness as well.