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.

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

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.

Book Review by Samira Ashraf- 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom

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Note: This is a book review written by Samira Ashraf who is a Curriculum Leader of Psychology, Mindfulness Lead and Teacher of RMS. You can follow her on Twitter @mindfulmiss1 .

Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword, not just in education but also in health care and the business world too. With the current focus on mental health and well being many schools are turning to mindfulness as a method to support their students. Within my own setting I am offering mindfulness to students across the school to support their wellbeing with positive feedback from pupils.
Tammie Prince has shown how easy it is to weave these mindful activities into your everyday classroom. Jam packed with, usually short and easy to prepare techniques, a wide variety of methods, such as breathing, guided meditations, active meditations etc.. The different activities will cater for different students and personalities. The use of quotes with each idea shows that Tammie has included tried and tested techniques within her own practice.
The calm down and relax techniques are particularly useful for students who need help to manage their stress, anxieties and worries and are simple but effective. My favourite technique that I use with Secondary level students is the Starfish hand meditation, a fantastic method to help with test/exam nerves.
The techniques that Tammie shares are not just useful for primary age but can also be adapted for KS3/4 and even 5. The teachers tips for each idea shows how versatile and adaptable each method is followed by further extension activities.
What is really useful is the Teacher’s mindfulness section, especially the mindful reflection. This book is not just for the students but it shows that we can all use these techniques to manage our own work/life stressors. I shall be sharing these techniques with our staff who would like to explore mindfulness personally or with their classes.

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.

2017 Education’s Voice – Top 10 Mindfulness Posts

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It is at this time of the year that we can sit back and reflect on the year gone. For me, there have been many highs and a few lows. However, the one constant in my life has been this blog. Sharing mindfulness with others is always one that gives me peace and joy. This year I wrote 30 new posts. So, with excitement, I have looked over the data and can happily reveal the Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017.

#10100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom (the book): This Post is a bucket list ticker for me. It is about my book published by Bloomsbury, where it can be bought and a definite high point of 2017.

#9Mindfulness in the Classroom- Using Play Dough Part 1: Play Dough has been known for its therapeutic properties. The squishing and pounding, pinching and moulding provides a Kinesthetic/ kinaesthetic learning opportunity that can be used to enhance the development of mindfulness. This post gives you a simple recipe, how to do a Play Dough Meditation and how to make a mandala with Play Dough.

#8Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Christmas Mindfulness: Christmas is a stressful time of the year for most people. Add 30+ Christmas happy children, several Christmas performances and Christmas parties on top of the normal day to day life of a teacher, and the Christmas time stress doubles. This post outlines four weekly challenges for Christmas to help calm the anxiety and stress of the season.

#7Teacher and Leader Mindfulness- A Mindful Ofsted- Top 5 Tips: This Post outlines how we can prepare before hand for a more mindful way that allows us to show our schools at their best.

#6Mindfulness in the Classroom- Colour Meditation: Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity that allows children to take a breather, allow a moment to step back from the work and then continue in a mindful way that allows for maximum progress. This simple Colour Meditation allows for quick refocusing in the Classroom.

#5Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies: when developing mindfulness in a school, it is important that it becomes part and parcel of school life, this includes Assemblies. This post is filled with whole school mindfulness strategies to keep a school mindful.

#4Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Holiday Mindfulness To Do List: Holidays/Vacations are important times (and much needed) for educators. There is no debate regarding the stress caused by working in schools. So, Taking holidays seriously as a time to recover and refresh is important. This To Do List helps get us back on the right track.

#3Mindfulness in the Classroom – Top Test Taking Tips: National testing is a part of education systems across the world. Every year, millions of children (and adults) sit down for timed, standardised tests. The anxiety levels hit an all time high. For some people, this adrenaline rush helps them. However, for many more, this stress doesn’t allow them to be at their best. These mindful tips can help make a difference and allow children to shine.

#2Mindfulness in the Classroom-Using Play Dough Part 2: who doesn’t like Play Dough? You can mash it, hit it, squish it and roll it. In this post, we look at how to use it as part of mindfulness development by making worry stones, finger labyrinths and stone towers.

#1Top Tips – Mindfulness and Tinnitus: This Post hit a need beyond just those in education. Tinnitus is a scared and annoying condition. There is no cure. Thus, those that suffer from Tinnitus have to learn to live with it and mindfulness is one way.

This is a fantastic and diverse list that I am proud of.

A special thanks go to family, friends and followers for indulging me and allowing me to share. I wish you and yours an amazing and mindful 2018!