Day 4- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

Superhero Mindfulness

Body language is the way that our body communicates to others and, to an extent, to ourselves.

The body language of the “Superhero Mindfulness” strategy reduces anxiety, improves children’s ability to deal with stress and boosts their self-confidence.

How To

Before you begin, discuss with your child how superheros stand, arms spread out or clinched fisted resting in hips, feet spread apart, sheet stuck out and head held high. Discuss how this makes the superhero feel powerful, calm and confident.

Now, tell your child to close their eyes and get into their superhero pose.

Have your child focus on their deep belly breaths as they pretend to be a hero.

After about a minute or two, have them open their eyes, stretch and relax.

You may want to discuss with them how they feel and what they were thinking of when they were pretending to be superheros.

Several times in the day at random points just shout “Superheros!” And everyone stops and gets into their pose (even YOU) and take some deep belly breaths before your resume with the day.

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 3- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

When a person is in crisis (stressed, anxious, mad, upset, etc), they tend to tense up their muscles. This is especially true with children.

Progressive muscle relaxation helps a person to relax and become more calm and in control. Research reveals that there is a reduction in the levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress when this strategy is employed.

Today, we will begin developing this strategy through a simple Squish and Relax routine.

Squish and Relax

– Have your child sit comfortably with a soft, squishy object. It can be a ball of play dough, a small stress ball, a small stuffed anima, etc. They are to hold this in their hands.

– Ask them to take a deep breath.

– Direct them to become aware of their body and instruct them to slowly move their awareness to the dough, noticing the sensations from their arms and hands.

– Tell them to squeeze tightly like they are trying to pick up a heavy weight. Have them hold this pose for a count of five, then relax.

– Repeat this cycle over a period of a minute.

– Repeat with other hand.

– Afterwards, discuss with the children how their bodies felt during and after the activity. What did they notice? How could this help them when they are angry, upset or anxious?

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 1 #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

What could be more natural than breathing?

It is an automatic reflex that is hard wired in our brains. It changes energy from tension to relaxation. It does this by turning off our sympathetic nervous system that produces stress hormones. This then turns on our parasympathetic nervous system, which turns off the stress hormone pump.

Deep breathing relaxes the body, decreases the heart rates lowers the blood pressure and creates the feeling of calmness. In addition, the deep breathing ensures the essential extra oxygen the brain needs for optimal function.

It all sounds very technical however, to a child it can feel magical!

Teaching children fun and active breathing exercises will help them control their emotions and calm themselves down in situations that make them extremely happy and hyper and in situations that make them very mad and upset. Also, daily breathing sessions, even when calm, increases a person’s feeling of well being and control. 

Here is a favourite fun breathing exercise for children to try today.

Snake Breathing

When snakes are coiled and resting, they look around calmly, and when they move, they are slow and smooth.


– Have your child sit up tall.

– Take a deep breath in, filling up their whole body.

– Pause

– Breathe out slowly and smoothly, making a hissing sound for as loud as they can. (Note: The key to deep breathing is to exhale longer than you inhale. The hissing controls the extension of the exhale.)

– Repeat for three to five rounds, letting them slow down and become calmer each time.

– Afterwards, discuss with them about how their body is feeling and what they are noticing following the breathing exercise. 

Many children enjoy being told the science of breathing and understanding why this does help them calm down.

Repeat at least five times today while calm. You are wanting to create a habit. Then, at any point you see them getting angry, upset, or overly excited try getting them to use the snake breath.

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

Mindful Art Appreciation- Mindfulness in the Classroom

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According to the “Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017”, published by NHS Digital, one in eight (12.8%) of children and young people aged between five and 19, surveyed in England in 2017, had a mental disorder.

We need to be clear, the development of mindfulness strategies will not make stress in our lives disappear or cure the pressures in our lives.  However, it will give us the tools that we can access to find a moment of calm that allows us to react more positively to the stresses we face. 

Giving these tools to our children gives our children a chance to cope with life and take control of their emotions.

Art, the creation and appreciation, is something that gives many people moments of mindfulness.  Helping children to practice Mindful Appreciation of Art places another tool in their Positive Mental Health Tool Kit.

Mindful Appreciation of Art in the Classroom- How to Guide

-Select a piece of art.  It can be a drawing, painting, photograph or sculpture.  It can be a picture of a piece of art or it can be the actual piece of art.

-Play a selection of meditation music for the length of time you want the children to meditate. Usually this is one minute per year of age, ie 6 years old= 6 minutes

-Children are to sit or stand comfortably and take three deep belly breaths.

-They are to look at the artwork, focusing on the centre of the design while still breathing at a steady rate.

-Gently guide the children in a soft voice, letting them know it is ok for their gaze to wonder to other parts of the art, noticing the designs, colours and ways the lines meet each other. As the meditation comes towards the end, encourage them to focus back on the centre.

-In the last 30 seconds of the meditation, have the children close their eyes and get them to recreated the design in their mind, continuing even, steady breaths.

-Complete the meditation with three deep mindful belly breaths

Note:  Once taught,  you can use this strategy when you actually go to an art museum.

Find more mindfulness strategies can be found in the books:

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom,  

50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness or on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com

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

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 7: The Movie Exercise

It is good for us to take more than a few minutes to break away from everyday life and movies are a good way to do this. I always find it relaxing to cuddle up on the sofa and turn on one of my favourite movies. Today, our mindful focus exercise is just that!

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position with your favourite comfort items.

⁃ Select either a favourite movie or a new one you have been waiting to watch.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths and turn it on.

⁃ While watching a movie, pay attention to how you get engrossed in the movie.

⁃ Observe closely what emotions does that movie bring out in you and take a note of it.

⁃ Once the movie is over, take a few minutes to reflect on the movie and the emotions.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

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?