Day 30- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

Congratulations! You have made it to the last day of the #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge! Today we will end on a positive note and show gratitude!

It is an odd time for everyone right now and it can heighten our anxiety levels and leaves us as a world of moaners. Whinging and moaning about everything from the weather to government is a favourite pastime of the young and old alike. We focus on the bad and are surprised by the good. This leads to a vicious cycle of negativity which then becomes the focus of our attention and anything positive is seen as just a fluke or fleeting moment.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

This MUST be modeled to children so that they can see the positive effects that gratitude can have on their personal lives.

Today, the challenge is a FAMILY challenge. I declare today, #RandomActsOfKindness Day!

We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life; mindlessly moving through the day without a real thought to what is happening to others around you. Today, our mindfulness practice with our children will focus on others. We will do this through random acts of kindness.

During the day, have the family randomly do some form of kindness for another person. It does not require any money, only your own free act of kindness.

If you are finding it hard to come up with some ideas, here are some to get you started.

  • Make a Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.
  • Do a chore for a sibling or parent without asking.
  • Smile at a stranger that is looking sad as you take a daily walk.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • Write a positive note and leave it in a random place to be discovered by one or more people.
  • Email or write to a person who has made a difference in your life.

Have each family member try to do at least three RAKs during the day.

I hope that these past 30 days have given you and your child and opportunity to develop mindful practices that are having a positive effect on your lives.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Please let me know how you are getting on over time.

Day 22- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

As I am writing this blog I can hear the tv in the background and character 1 is telling character 2 that the key to stress management is to completely immerse oneself into an activity that engages the mind on something different that the stress that one is having. This reminded me of one of my favourite mindfulness strategies, Mindful 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. Thus, you become present in the moment.

Thus, mindful doodling:

focuses the mind
calms the body and mind
relieves stress
encourages relaxation
increases your sense of wellbeing
replaces negative or bored habits
allows you to be present and aware

Materials:

– markers, pens, pencil colours or crayons

– plain paper

How to do Mindful Doodling?

You don’t need to have any drawing skills for this to work. (This is a good point as I DO NOT have good drawing skills!) There really isn’t any right or wrong way to mindfully doodle. It is not about the end result but about the process that is being taken.

1- Draw, by freehand, a border around the outer edge.
2- In this step you can do one of three things:
Draw a string inside your border. ( A string is a simple curved line/squiggle that        will lend structure to your design as your pattern will emerge accordingly from the contours of the string. The string divides the border into sections.)
Draw straight or angled lines free hand within the border dividing the area into smaller sections.
Choose a corner of the border and begin step 3.
3- Start creating your doodle with patterns drawn with a pen or marker along the contours of the string, lines or border. Allow the pattern to reveal itself naturally.

There is no right or wrong. You can use very simple shapes, lines, dots, squiggles and more. Shade as you desire and be mindful of and deliberate with each stroke.
Keep going until you are finished. You will know when this is.

Enjoy your creation!

Remember: There are NO mistakes. So, no erasing is allowed. Embrace the mark you have made and use it to continue your meditative journey of mindfully doodling.

Top Tips:

– You can use any size paper you desire. It can be as small as a post it note or as large as a poster. It is up to you. However, I suggest that in the beginning you start on a smaller sheet as you get the hang of this mindfulness activity.
-The finer the points of the pens/markers, the finer the detail will be in the doodles.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 12- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

We continue with our mindful focus on our senses. Taking time to stop and appreciate what we DO have is important for a happy life. Too often we can fall into a negative spiral and not appreciate our lives.

Today, we will focus on the sense of smell.

We will follow the same process as yesterday.

– At the beginning of the day, discuss what they are already noticing as they look around. Then, decide to notice that on a given signal. (This could be the ringing of a bell, code word, etc.)


– Have children take a minute to notice.


– Guide them by asking them questions:
-Have you noticed something or someone you have never noticed before?
-How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)


– Have the children make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate themselves for being in the present and proceed with their learning/work.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 11- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

Spring brings rebirth to our senses as flowers begin to make their way towards the warm rays of the sun, animals come out of hibernation and the world comes alive once again. Spring allows us to mindfully explore our five senses: sight, taste, Smell, touch and hearing.

There is no better time to take mindful notice of Spring as it is now at this time across the world.

Over the next five days, we will dedicate each day to a different sense.

Today, we will focus on sight and what we can see.

– At the beginning of the day, discuss what they are already noticing as they look around. Then, decide to notice that on a given signal. (This could be the ringing of a bell, code word, etc.)


– Have children take a minute to notice.


– Guide them by asking them questions:
-Have you noticed something or someone you have never noticed before?
-How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)


– Have the children make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate themselves for being in the present and proceed with their learning/work.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 7- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

The key to mindfulness is focusing on the present moment calmly and accepting the feelings and thoughts and bodily sensations. It is our way to taking control of ourselves even when things around us are happening without our control.

In a child’s life, there is little that they have control over. When they get up, what they wear, what they eat, what they watch, etc. controlled or semi-controlled. Then, add the actions and reactions of other children to situations and there is a perfect storm. Our job is to help them realise there are things they can control and giving them strategies be aware and mindful of their minds and bodies; learning how to live in a chaotic world.

Mindful eating is one way that allows a child to become aware of the positive and nurturing foods we eat by using our senses. By using all of our senses in choosing to eat food that supports our bodies growth and development, we are acknowledging the foods we like or dislike without making a fuss about the taste. Additionally, they become aware of signals the body gives us to lets us know we are hungry or we are full. So, in addition to the mindfulness with the eating of foods, we also start to see food in a different way; as nourishment.

As an adult, you may choose to eat an entire meal in a mindful way. However, for children, the process could be very tedious, particularly in the beginning.

Mindful Eating Exercise:

(The parent needs to verbally guide the children through the exercise.)

You can use a raisin, a slice of apple or orange, pomegranate seed, dried fruit, a piece of chocolate or any food you wish.

1- Have the children LOOK at the food they will be eating. Silently, they are to observe what it looks like? What do you notice?

What colour is it?

Is it small or large?

2- Have the child smell the food.

Does it have a smell?

What does it smell like?

3- Have the child direct their attention to how it feels.

Can You squeeze it?

Is it firm or soft?

Is it smooth, sticky or rough?

Warm or cold?

Does it make any sounds?

4- Have the child, very slowly, put the piece of food in their mouth but not chew it! Leave it on the tongue.

How does it feel on the tongue?

Can you taste anything?

Does it smell differently in your mouth?

5- Have the child begin to chew slowly; one mindful chew at a time.

Does the taste change?

How does it feel in the mouth?

6- Try to get them notice when they swallow, and see how far you can feel the food into your body.

7- Finally, discuss what they felt during the activity or turn on some meditation music and allow them to write about their experience.

Try this with a number of different foods either in one sitting or over a period of time.

In addition, encourage them to mindfully eat their first bite of lunch each day. It is lovely to see children mindfully eating their food.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes with #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 2 #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

For many people, the events happening around us can be scary. When people are highly anxious, the reptilian brain snaps into action and feelings of survival and negativity surface. Negativity does not help mental health and we have to make a conscious decision to be tankful for what we do have.

Gratitude (being thankful) is a fundamental component of mindfulness. Teaching children (and adults) to be thankful for the the abundance in their lives as opposed to focusing on the actual material objects is not always readily accepted in our society.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

Today’s challenge is to encourage thought around the good things happening in our lives and enjoying those precious moments of gratitude withe the Fab Five activity.

Fab Five

You will need:

– paper

– markers, pencil colours or crayons

How to:

1- Take some time to discuss what fabulous things they have in their lives and are thankful for having. Don’t allow your child to only focus on material things. Encourage non tangible things as well such as love from an individual, time spent with an individual or special friendships. Discuss why they are thankful for those things.

2- Have your child place their hand on the paper with their fingers spread and trace around their hands.

3- Then, in each finger, have them write and/or draw one thing they are thankful for having in their lives. In the end they will have five fabulous things that they are thankful for having.

4- In the palm, have them either draw something that represents their personality or write their name.

5- Place the completed drawing somewhere they can see often. Encourage them to look at it often during the day as a reminder to be thankful.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

New School Year Mindfulness “To Do List”

My school year started this week. For many in education, this week brings back a whole host of stress and anxiety. Some of it is self inflicted as we understand our awesome duty of care for the children in our schools. Some is inflicted by government demands, the sudden and rapid changes we face, extreme accountability and funding crisis.

How we tackle the year is important for both our own emotional well-being and the emotional well-being of our children. We can minimise some of our stresses. However, we need to accept that their will always be stress and, for a successful school year, we need to take control.

Learning to take several mindful moments during every day gives our minds periods of time during the day to recuperate. It allows us to be more considerate of our actions rather than those actions becoming unmindful reactions.

Stress, good and bad, is a part of life. It is part of the human condition. The key to a calmer, more peaceful life is how we react to these stresses.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to be mindful, it just takes practice and, sometimes, a few reminders. That is why I have come up with a Mindfulness To Do List that encompasses many different aspects of mindfulness.

–  Take one minute , close your eyes and breathe deeply. Do this several times a day.

– Observe your thoughts & feelings without judgement.

– Focus on the present moment and note one specific detail.

– Think of five things that you are thankful for in your life.

Make several copies of the photo reminder at the top of this post and place them in prominent places as your reminder to be mindful. Then ensure that you tick off ALL the things on the list EVERY day.

Remember, the most important step in educating children in developing their own mindfulness skills, is to be a model of mindfulness.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Find more mindfulness strategies can be found in 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness or on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com