In our increasingly busy worlds, where we are buzzing from place to place, technology in hand, we often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to stop and smell the roses. So, I’m finding it more and more important to teach our children the ability to switch off from the buzz and busyness of the day and focus on becoming calmer and more mindful. There are a few ways this can be achieved in our setting.
Here are just a few activities to bring mindfulness into the day of the children in your care:
Mindful breath – each day, after a busy outside activity we ask the students to come inside and sit down and listen to a 3 minute audio which encourages students to feel their own breath and listen to the patterns in their breathing. This 3 minutes helps to centre every, including the educators, and leads to a more peaceful environment.
We also practice ‘rainbow breathing’ where you raise your arms straight up above your head when you inhale, and arch them down like a rainbow as you exhale. Visualising a rainbow on the exhale assists with the calming feeling.
Mindful meditation – long gone are the days where meditation was just for monks or yogis hoping to clear their minds, these days everyone is doing it – and for good reason!
Asking the children to lie down, you can play them any number of free tracks available online. These tracks ask the children to pay attention to different parts of their bodies, to listen to sounds they can hear, to pretend they are floating on a cloud – a whole range of things. These tracks range from 2mins to as long as an hour, so you need to know your audience and how long they’ll be able to stay still and listen. I’m thinking closer to 2 minutes will be suitable for most of us!
Nature walks – more than just taking a walk outside, with the focus being on clearing the children’s heads and allowing them to slow down, a nature walk may be letting the kids take off their shoes and feeling the sand between their toes. Or walking bare foot over bricks or pavers. It might be encouraging them to find a quiet spot to sit and just listen to what they can hear and then when the time is up they can share what they heard with a friend. Children can even just take the time to lie down on the grass and look at the clouds!
Mindful eating – what a fun idea this is! But it just encourages the children to think about what they are eating and how it looks, feels, smells and tastes like. Often giving all children a piece of carrot or apple means they can do the activity together.
Mindful play – educators, in your busy day it can be hard to devote your time to just one child – but try it! Allow yourself to mindfully play with a child, or group of children, for a few minutes. Don’t be distracted by the time, how long until they eat their lunch or can I go home yet! Just play and let the child know that your time together is important to you.
These mindful activities are easy to attempt as a one off or slot into your program daily or weekly.
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