Clinical psychologists from the University of Sheffield have discovered young children’s concentration in class can be significantly improved by introducing mindfulness sessions into their school timetable.
When we think of mindfulness, many times our thoughts go directly to formal meditations. Guided meditations can be an integral part of developing a mindfulness practice; but you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing their attention on the moment to moment sensations of individual activities. Doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention allows a person to slow down the process and be fully present in the moment as it unfolds and allowing recognition of all senses.
Two Informal Mindfulness Activities
Building Stone Towers
Stone Tower Building is like a mini-meditation. It gives children the opportunity to be quiet, think and focus just on what they are doing. Their silent fixed attention is fully in the moment of balancing the stones.
– A collection of stones of different sizes, ensure that a large amount have some flatness on each side. But also include a variety of colours and roundness.
– A few pictures of stone towers so that children get the idea of the task and a challenge, “How many stones can you use to make a tower?”
– A place to do the building
– Optional: a camera so the child can take a picture of their tower or paper and pencils so they can make a sketch of their finished tower.
This activity is a bit more advance require greater concentration and skill as they have to focus not on the balancing of objects to build a tower but to also manipulate chopsticks to move and stack the objects.
– I bought a ready made kit from The Works (http://www.theworks.co.uk/p/games-puzzles/wooden-chopstick-challenge/5052089164628).
-However, it would be easy to make your own kit which includes a set of chopsticks and small building blocks.
-A few pictures so that children get the idea of the task and a challenge, “How many blocks can you use to make a tower?”
– A place to do the building.
Top Tip for Both Activities
– Remind children to practice active, slow, deep breathing when they are stacking.
– To keep calm, remind the children that if the tower falls, to close their eyes, take three mindful breaths and start again.
Both of these activities require complete focus in the moment and supports the on-going development of mindfulness.