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?

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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.

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Top Mindfulness Tips for Supply/Substitute Teachers

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Being a supply/substitute teacher is not an easy gig. Many times you are walking into an unknown classroom filled with children that may find Ann known teacher distressing or a license to test the behaviour waters. A supply/substitute teacher needs to have a tool kit of quick and easy ways to support calm across the classroom. Many mindfulness activities can do just that!

Here are my Top Mindfulness Tips for Supply/Substitute Teachers:

1- BREATHE! Within the first few minutes, teach the children how to do Deep Mindful Breathing. Start off by explaining you are teaching them how they can trick their brain to believe they are calm. Explain the science of this technique. The strategy can be found here.
(You could even tell them it is a secret trick and show them one of the themed Breathing strategies.)

2- MEDITATION MUSIC Have a USB drive that you have downloaded a significant number of meditation songs or, better yet, download a 3-4 hour meditation music compilation from YouTube. Keep the music handy to play in the background while children are doing independent work. It will help to keep a sense of calm. More about this strategy can be found here.

3- MINDFUL DOODLING  Children are usually told NOT to doodle. Explain to them that this Doodling is special and will help them to remember what they have been taught today (relaxes the mind to allow the learning make connections in the brain. Play the meditation music in the background. The strategy is explained here.

4- MINDFUL LISTENING Explain to the children that the Headteacher/Principal has a special mission for them today. When they hear a special bell ring, they are to stop, close their eyes and just silently listen to all the things they can hear inside and outside the classroom. Then when you say stop, they are to quietly write the sounds down and go back to work. At the end of the day, all the lists are collected and given to the Headteacher/Principal. (You must give to the Headteacher/Principal as the children WILL as them!) You can find a special bell here.

5- GRATITUDE Throughout the day, get the children to stop, take three mindful breaths and silently write one thing they are thankful for on their special GRATITUDE LIST. By the end of the day, the list will be long and filled with happy thoughts. Send it home with the children to share with their parents. More information on Mindful Gratitude can be found here.

Sometimes it is the simple things that have the greatest impact.

End the School Year with Mindful Gratitude

 

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I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine contemplating the last three weeks of the school year. There is so much to do. Reports have been finished but still need to be printed and signed, the end of year performance is in it’s last days of prep, school trips are being prepared along with the million of things to prepare for the new school year that begins in only two months time. Children are tired, staff are tired and parents are waiting anxiously for the “tag you’re it” hand over that will be coming shortly. We can get lost in the whirlwind of the last few days.

Thankfulness leads to increased well-being and, especially, positive moods by increasing our general happiness that is lasting. The residual effects of happiness stay with us, particularly if we are mindful of the happiness and choose to “waddle” in happiness.

Participating in Mindful Gratitude could be a great way to tackle the end of the year. Spending some time reflecting on the wonder of the year, the achievements, the changes and the time that has passed can offer a respite to the chaos the end of year brings.

Take a look through the Gratitude ideas that may be the perfect solution to celebrating the end of an exciting year.

Thankful Wall– Each day until the end of the year, give each child a post-it note and have the children write one thing they have been grateful for his year. It could be big like mastering multiplication or small like getting to be in the same class as their best friend. Watching the gratitude grow gives children a visual link to gratitude.

Gratitude/Thankful diary– Each child has their own diary that they write, draw or glue in things they are thankful for in their lives. In times of upset, they can look through their diaries to remind themselves of all the things that make them thankful.

Thank You cards or letters– Old school! But, it is a powerful tool allowing children a tangible outlet to show gratitude to the people who have made a difference in their lives!

Gratitude Video– Get the children to work in small groups to make a series of videos acting or telling everyone in a creative way the things they have been thankful for this past year as part of a “Welcome to Your New Class” video for the next year’s class.

ABC Gratitude Book– As a class or as small groups, create an ABC Gratitude book with each letter being something they are thankful for. Have the children illustrate and make into a book to share with younger children.

#WeekOfGratitude– This is a five day activity to help yourself and your children mindfully focus on the good things in life. It is all explained here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/weekofgratitude-mindfulness-development/

Maybe you have a great idea! Share it with us in the comments below and help us all end the year being Mindfully Thankful. It will make us all feel good and focus on the important things in life.

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Loving Kindness

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According, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, “ One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems.”

The Week of 6th-12th February 2017 is  #childrensmhw, Children’s Mental Health Week. Promoted by http://www.place2be.org.uk/ , it is to make us aware of the mental health crisis that we are dealing with on a day to day basis. This year’s theme is- spread a little kindness.

The use of Loving Kindness in mindfulness development is good not only for the child but for the people around them no matter what time of the year.

So, how can we spread a little kindness this week and EVERY WEEK of the year?

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

  • 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 slips of paper, 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.

Thank You Cards– Old School, but a simple way to spread a little kindness. Have each child make Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.

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#PositivePostItDay– #PositivePostItDay was started by a young lady in Canada called Caitlin Haacke. After being bullied herself, she decided to take a stand against bullying. She single handily started the movement of positivity that is sweeping the world.

You will need lots of post-it notes! But the idea is simple.

  • On the day, have the children discuss what we like in other people and in ourselves and then have them write at least two positive notes; one to themselves and one to someone else.
  • Allow the children to stick the notes EVERYWHERE; on the person, on a door, on a table, on a wall, etc. Fill your classroom, area or school with these little positive notes.
  • At the end of the day, have the children discuss how being positive effected them. Was it difficult to think of something positive about another person? Was it difficult to think of something positive about themselves?

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!

Loving Kindness Meditation Dance Remix:  https://youtu.be/93mj4PaiOUo

Loving Kindness 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

The world is a harsh place. Join me in spreading a little kindness around the world.

Share your ideas and don’t forget to use the hashtag #childrensmhw

#WeekOfGratitude – Family Friday

 

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Today’s gratitude focus is on what is good and special about your family. Every family is unique and special. No two families are the same and we need to celebrate those differences!

Today, take a deep breath and take a mindful moment to focus on your family. identify what makes them so special.

Share that memory with people. It can be face to face or through social media. It doesn’t matter except to spread happiness!

Classroom Tips:
#WeekOfGratitude
Mindful Gratitude

Gratitude Meditation:

#WeekOfGratitude – Thankful Thursday

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Today’s gratitude focus is on what you are thankful for in your life.  Being thankful allows us to see the good in things beginning a spiral of positivity.

Today, take a deep breath and take a mindful moment to focus on things you are thankful for.

Share that memory with people. It can be face to face or through social media. It doesn’t matter except to spread happiness!

Classroom Tips:
#WeekOfGratitude
Mindful Gratitude

Gratitude Meditation: