3 Easy Ways to Bring Mindfulness Into the Classroom
Every teacher knows that some days can be quite chaotic in the classroom. Between loud students, interruptions, and general misbehavior, a classroom can sometimes feel like a warzone. But, the classroom doesn’t have to be this way—a large number of teachers are turning to mindfulness practices to teach students how to manage their behavior and to calm even the rowdiest of students.
Many students are faced with more stress than ever before, and one in eight children in the United States suffers from an anxiety disorder. Students aren’t the only ones who are stressed—according to research, most teachers experience job stress at least two to four times a day, with more than 75% of teachers’ health problems attributed to stress. It’s no secret that something needs to be done to help those affected by stress.
Many recent studies show that when students practice mindfulness in the classroom, it can have countless benefits, some of which are: improved overall well-being; reduced anxiety, stress, reactivity, and bad behavior; improved sleep; increased self-esteem; and greater calmness, self-regulation, and awareness. On top of the personal benefit, students who practice mindfulness often contribute to a more positive classroom culture. And, teachers who practice mindfulness themselves often see many of the same benefits that their students do, even when practiced in their personal life.
Sounds great, right? But, where do you begin? Implementing mindfulness into the classroom doesn’t have to be a challenging or time-consuming task. All it takes is a little dedication and practice to get the job done right. Here are a three ways you can infuse mindfulness practices into your classroom every day:
Lead Deep-Breathing Exercises
Try leading a deep-breathing exercises in your classroom, ranging anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the age of your students. Find a script online to recite to your students to get them to focus on their breath. Consider turning off the classroom lights or even putting on soft music in the background to set the mood and calm your students. Guided meditation and deep breathing can help your students to self-regulate. Once practiced a few times, a script will not be needed to get your students’ attention focused on their breathing.
Get Students Moving with Somatic Activities
Mindfulness practices doesn’t always mean sitting in silence and deep breathing. The practice of mindfulness encourages your students to be more aware of their emotions and behaviors as a whole, and for younger students, a game may be the best way to get them in touch with their inner selves. “Somatics” is defined as how we perceive the body from within, meaning how we reflect on our inner selves and our internal experience. A somatic activity can be an interactive game for students to label their emotions and navigate how they feel. Try one of these games to help get your students in touch with their emotions.
Download an App
If leading a short meditation for your students seems more overwhelming than calming, consider downloading an app like Calm to practice these techniques. Many meditations in the app are short and easy to follow. The meditations are guided by a calming voice that can walk your students through deep breathing and activities to destress and relax themselves. Try taking the last 5 minutes of your class to practice deep breathing and meditation with your students, or maybe try it before a tough exam or on a day where students seem extra rowdy. Bonus: if you’re using a virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa through a voice-enabled device in your class, there are tons of apps similar to Calm that can be played over your speaker.
Looking for more ways to positively influence your classroom culture? Check out these five strategies to help boost your students’ confidence and self-esteem!