Book Review by Kerry Macfarlane – 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom

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Note: This is a book review written by  Kerry Macfarlane who is a Primary
Teacher, Specialist Leader and PSHE/Mental Wellbeing Lead at Corpus Christi Primary School, Bournemouth. You can follow Kerry on Twitter ‪@KAB21MAC‬.

If you’re looking for ways to develop mindfulness in the primary classroom, this book has it all! Loaded with a wealth of inspired ideas, activities and tips, ‘Mindfulness in the Classroom’ is a superb toolkit, full of mindful practices designed to support children’s mental health in a simple, manageable way within the classroom.

The impact of mindfulness is a growing area of interest in supporting children’s well-being. In my experience, equipping children with a repertoire of skills and strategies to use mindful practice enables them to manage their feelings, especially their ability to cope with stress and anxiety to achieve a state of calm. This book offers practical ways to support children’s skills of emotional self-management through a variety of engaging and accessible mindful practices.

Tammie’s activity ideas are easy to implement, effective take-aways for any primary classroom practitioner. Among my favourites are Mind Jar Meditation, Body Scan, Yoga practice, Random Acts of Kindness and the Gratitude Jar.

Congratulations to Tammie on producing such a fabulous gem of a book to inspire mindfulness within and beyond the primary classroom for both children and teachers.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom is written by Tammie Prince and published by Bloomsbury. You can find more information on the book and where you can order the book here.

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Mindfulness in the Classroom – Empowering Question Meditation

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Questions are at the centre of most of the achievements and progress of human beings. The “What ifs…” and “I wonder whys…” help to give direction to our lives. The right questions can help to ground and focus our minds. The mindful reflection of empowering questions supports the development of our emotional Intelligence.

Empowering Questions allow us to explore our ability to be grateful, develop resilience and focus on the most important things in life. It allows us to immerse ourselves in mindfulness.

Mindful Empowering Questions for Children

1. What do you do really, really well?
2. What one thing do you really like about yourself the most? Why do you like that?
3. What 3 words describe you best? Why?
4. What would you like to learn to do really, really well? What can you do today to begin?
5. What do you love doing the most? Why?
6. Who are your friends? Why are they your friends?
7. What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?
8. How do you feel today? Why do you feel that way?
9. What is one thing you are thankful for in your life? Why?
10. What is one thing that you could do to make the school a better place? Why?
11. What do you imagine yourself doing 10 years from now?
12. What motivates you to do your very best?
13. Who do you need to forgive?
14. Right now, at this very moment, what do you want most? What are you going to do about it?
15. What do you love most about yourself?

Additional Mindful Empowering Questions for Adults

1. How do you define your purpose in life?
2. If you could go back in time by 5 years, what would you tell yourself?
3. When was the last time you did something for the very first time?
4. What are your top 5 values? Are you living those values every day?
5. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
6. What has the fear of failure stopped you from doing? What one step could you take today to begin overcoming that fear?
7. Do you have healthy boundaries or do you let people take advantage of you?
8. What are you the most grateful for in your life? Why?
9. What are you most proud about your life? Why?
10. What is one thing you can do today that can make someone else’s life better? How can you accomplish this?
11. What is the most courageous thing I have done?
12. How have I become me? What am I like?
13. What are the things that make me happy?
14. In what kin of things am I brilliant?
15. Who am I?

How to use Mindful Empowering Question Meditation

1- Choose an Empowering Question to be used in the meditation.
2- Put on some soft meditation music and dim the lights.
3- Find a comfortable position either sitting or standing.
4- Take 3 deep mindful breaths, allowing the shoulders to relax and their eyes to slowly close.
5- Ask the Empowering Question and Have participants softly repeat it.
6- Encourage the participants to reflect silently on their answer while continuing to breathe deeply for 2-15 minutes depending on the age of the participants and their experience level.
–          Encourage the reflection to include visualising themselves in the situation of the question.
7- Complete the Meditation with 3 mindful breaths and have everyone open their eyes.

Mindful Empowering Questioning will help to support increased happiness, Stress Management, build self-esteem, overcome fears and achieve greater mindfulness.

Tops Tips- Mindfulness & Tinnitus

This was originally posted a year ago for Tinnitus Awareness Week. This week we continue to raise awareness with an updated post. Tinnitus is a hidden and sometimes embarrassing problem for many. Here is my story and how I cope.

Education's Voice

Design.png(I thank my regular blog followers for allowing me to go slightly off message for a worthy cause. Next week is Tinnitus Awareness Week in the UK and USA. Information can be found here: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/Pages/Category/tinnitusweek

I can’t remember exactly when I started hearing the continuous ringing in my ears. I do remember the exact moment I realised that I had some hearing loss. At the time, it was upsetting but not life altering. I realised that, in one ear, I could not hear high tones. I think back now and realise that was the last time I actually couldn’t “hear” anything all the time! The constant ringing began shortly after that. First, in only one ear, and then in the other. I was in my 20’s. I coped, I believe, during those early years because the noise was low in volume. Then while pregnant in my 30’s, the volume kicked…

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FREE ONLINE Preschool Mindfulness Summit

Mindfulness for children is starting to become something people want to know more about. Giving our children life long strategies that supports positive mental health develops positive habits that allows them to cope with stresses that are a normal (and sometimes not normal) part of life.

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This year Helen Maffini has put together over 25 experts for the FREE ONLINE Preschool Mindfulness Summit (https://www.preschoolmindfulnesssummit.com/signup ) that begins on January 22nd – 26th 2018. Interviews start at 9am EST (New York) each day and will be posted for 24 hours.

I am honoured and humbled to be part of the panel featured in this mindfulness summit.

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Each day is packed with talk after talk that will keep you glued to the screen and finish with lots of strategies that is being used around the world.

Here is the schedule:

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So, this is one not to be missed! Sign up today!

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https://www.preschoolmindfulnesssummit.com/signup

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Valentine Mindfulness (AKA Loving Kindness Mindfulness)

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As we move towards the month of February, our minds tend to fall upon Valentine’s Day and the whole concept of LOVE. LOVE can be described in many different ways. But, really LOVE is about social connection between one or more people.

There is a fundamental need by humans for social connection; feeling kindness from and towards others allows for positive emotional well-being, improved health, decreased negative stress responses, greater empathy and heightened self-esteem.

Research by Hutcherson, Seppälä and Gross on Loving-kindness meditation that increases social connectedness, found even a few minutes of Loving Kindness meditation increased our feelings of social connection and positivity towards others. Loving-Kindness Meditations focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards others, increasing love, joy, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement and awe.

Here are a selection of Loving-Kindness Meditations that can support the development of mindfulness for children and adults.

#RandomActsofKindness Hearts 

#RandomActsofKindness change the attitude of a class from whining and moaning to one of appreciation and gratitude.

How to:
* Discuss with children what a random act of kindness is and come up with a list of RAKs for at least the number of children in the class.
* Write these RAKs on individual hearts , fold and put into a hat/bag/bowl and allow each child to take one RAK. (NO TELLING! It is a secret!)
* Alternatively, each child can come up with their own RAK. (They are more likely to be able to do this after they get the practice of RAKs.)
* During the given time frame, the child is to complete the act WITHOUT saying they are completing the RAK. (This will also take some time as at first, they will want to tell everyone what they have done. The point of RAKs is to do a RAK without recognition. This will be the ultimate level of this mindful practice.)
* After the given time frame, as a class, discuss how completing the RAK made them feel and how they think it made the other person feel.

Loving Kindness Guided Meditations
Guided meditations focuses the mind on one aspect.  For Loving Kindness meditations, it focuses our minds of being kind to ourselves and to others.  It really is about spreading kindness.
Here are a few that you may find useful for your class and yourself:
Loving Kindness Meditation for primary children: https://youtu.be/YRwQrzogy-g
Loving Kindness Meditation for primary children :  https://youtu.be/-9_ZHnltMe0
Loving Kindness Meditation for upper primary children and teenagers: https://youtu.be/sz7cpV7ERsM
Loving Kindness Meditation for adults/ teenagers: https://youtu.be/MKtXw-tivZg

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Mindful Loving Kindness Doodling
The goal of Mindful Doodling is to fully engage with your doodles in a meditative way. It requires slowing down, focusing on the paper and pen and doodling repeatively with full intent. More details, including how to and the benefits, can be found here.

While the children are doing Mindful Loving Kindness Doodling, have them focus on positive, loving and caring thoughts towards different people, including themselves. You can do this over a period of days focusing on one section at a time that would give maximum impact of the components of this mindfulness strategy.

You or the children can free hand draw your hearts or you can print out drawn hearts.

Here are some free printable heart shapes to doodle:
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/lots-of-hearts?tag=57097
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/hearts?tag=57097
http://www.coloringcastle.com/pdfs/shapes/s-heart.pdf

Finger Labyrinths
Labyrinths have been around for more than 4,000 years and have been used for relaxation, meditation and prayer that has brought spiritual and emotional well-being to the lives of those who used them.

Finger Labyrinths are known to help children relax, feel better when they are sad or scared, deal with situations when they feel ashamed or embarrassed and help them to concentrate. (Find out more in the Education’s Voice post on Finger Labyrinths here.)

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The Smiling HeartPath Finger Labyrinth Meditation is perfect to support the development of Mindful Loving Kindness. ( Originally found here )

Print out the Smiling HeartPath for each child, initially allow time for Mindful Colouring and then use, following the directions on the sheet.

Mindful Singing

Loving Kindness Song– Something that we know brings joy to many people is the act of singing and, with it part of the curriculum, this is another way to bring mindfulness to the forefront in an integrated way.
This Loving Kindness Dance Remix is an upbeat song that brings combines Loving Kindness with the joy of singing and great to use every day!
Meditation Dance Remix:  https://youtu.be/93mj4PaiOUo

What other Loving Kindness strategies have you used?

Mindful Reflection – A 2018 Mindful New Year’s Resolution

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I will admit, I am not a fan of New Year Resolutions. Honestly, I don’t think most people are fans. However, year in and year out we make resolutions, break resolutions and then make them again.

What is a resolution? It is something which a person resolves to change- an undesired trait or behaviour-to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

Last year I decided to look at resolutions differently and make some that allowed me to develop more deeply my mindful practice, thus improving my life. You can read last year’s resolutions here. If you read yesterday’s 2017 reflection here, than you know those simple resolutions have now become my new Mindful Precepts, rules to live by.

I have another confession, my 2018 resolution was decided over a month ago by a kind and thoughtful person whom gave me an amazingly appropriate gift. She gave me a little book called A Sentence a Day Journal. The blurb for the book says, “Put pen to paper everyday to capture unique insights into your life.”

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Wow! Amazing right? This is a gift of Mindful Reflection. To take a moment each day to mindfully reflect on one single aspect of your day and allow yourself to be in that moment and allow yourself to solidify it in a few words allows you to take ownership of that moment,the epitome of Mindfulness. When you are reflective, you create a space for yourself that allows you to begin to notice your own internal experiences. It allows you to stay connected to your own passions in life.

My book has 366 different questions which I will use daily for 3 years allowing myself to Mindfully Reflect on my day. But, you don’t need a book or questions to make your own 2018 Mindful Reflection Book.

How to Create Your Mindful Reflection Book:

You will need:
– A small notebook that can hold at least 365/6 sentences!
– A pen
– 2- 5 minutes of time daily

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to mindfully reflect on one or two GOOD things that have happened to you that day. Some days will be easier than others. But, the key is pressing yourself to reflect on the good in each day and OWNING it by writing it down.

Allow yourself to waddle in the gratitude of that moment that has occurred, that it has enhanced your life that day. The more you identify the positives in life, the more positives occur. An attitude of positivity grows positivity (in the same way an attitude of negativity grows negativity).

Write down at least one sentence to celebrate that GOOD moment of your day (date it as well). Then, at least once a month, go back and read all the good things that have happened in your life. Allow yourself to appreciate those times.

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By allowing ourselves to Mindfully Reflect daily on positive aspects in our lives, we can begin to improve the quality of our thoughts, reactions and intentions.

#MindfulReflection

Note: You can begin Mindful Reflection at any time of the year. The key is to do it over a long period of time to develop a habit of positivity and gratitude that can improve your quality of life.

Mindful Precepts

That week between Christmas and New Year seems to be a bit of a black hole in time that gives us time to reflect on the past year. At times it can be the sense of melancholy, considering the things lost or changed in the last year. But, then again, those losses and changes gives opportunities to new adventures, friendships and ideas.

So, I now look back on my last year and revisit what my Mindful New Year Resolutions were and how successful I was in achieving what I set out to do.

My 2017 Mindful New Year’s Resolutions were: (You can find the post here.)

To BREATHE: ACHIEVED! Breathing became my anchor as I put myself out there; taking the steps away from the comfort of the known to the excitement of new challenges and experiences that, honestly at times, took my breath away!
To Be Present: ACHIEVED! Finding the “Rose” of each day is what got me through the most difficult ones and enhanced the most joyful ones.
To Let Go: ACHIEVED! Sometimes, things just don’t work out in the way you envisioned and letting go of that has been a challenge for me. But, each day the grip gets less and my new future gets brighter.
To Be Grateful: ACHIEVED! Gratitude filled my life this year in so many ways and from some of the most unexpected places.
To Be Positive: ACHIEVED! Positivity has been a big theme of the year. I have found myself being the model of positivity, the cheerleader of positivity and the receiver of positivity. Positivity can change a life.
To Believe In Myself: ACHIEVED! At times, this has been difficult. Humans are so critical of themselves. The diversity in our abilities, thoughts and actions can make us question our own ability and compare ourselves to others who are oranges and you are an apple. But, mindful perseverance helped me to have greater faith in myself.

So, a successful year of Mindful Resolutions all in all! It was rough at times. But, that is life isn’t it.

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The one thing I have come to realise that these these resolutions shouldn’t be resolutions. These should be something we strive for everyday of every year! These need to be our Mindful Precepts, rules to live by.

If we live by the precepts, we can enjoy our lives, our jobs, ourselves… We can also help others to enjoy their lives, their jobs and theirselves. If we can do that, we add our bit to making this a better world.

What are your Mindful Precepts? What have you learned are Rules to Live By?
#MindfulPrecept

Read about my 2018 New Year’s Resolution here- Mindful Reflections.