Your internet going down right before a big work presentation over Zoom. Forgetting to do something important that you committed to. The noise of your kids fighting. Leaving your mask at home when you go grocery shopping. Not being able to get together with your friends for girls’ night. Life is full of stressful experiences, especially right now, but we often forget that our kids are experiencing pandemic life too.
In our kids’ lives, it might look like not knowing the answer to a question when their teacher calls on them. Having a hard time focusing on virtual school with all the other noise happening in the house. Forgetting to submit an assignment. Getting a lower grade than expected. Not being able to play with friends or go trick or treating. For them, the context might be different but the experience of stress is the same.
School can be a source of stress for a lot of children, whether it's virtual or in person, and teaching them how to manage these stressful moments can make all the difference.
Mindfulness in education is becoming a lot more prevalent, and some progressive schools even incorporate it into daily routines, or have extracurricular programs and support that kids can participate in. Once you know the benefits, it’s easy to see why it is growing in schools. Providing tools to calm the mind and body shortens the length of time that children experience stress, helps mitigate behaviour problems, and increases students’ ability to focus and stay engaged in learning.
Finding ways to incorporate mindful activities in the daily school routine might be as simple as two quiet minutes with morning announcements, setting an intention for the day as a class, or using journal prompts to help kids reflect on their feelings.
One teacher, Incia Palmieri, focuses on mindfulness both in the traditional classroom as well as with her business @onceuponamat. She says the benefits she sees for students are so far reaching. “Ever since I created a space for Yoga/Mindfulness in my classroom I saw a shift in how my students responded to me and each other,” she says. The class community grows, and there is a noticeable difference in her students. Palmieri notes “They’re kind and compassionate towards each other, they complete their tasks with focus and know that they have breath to use to calm them when they need”. By teaching our kids mindfulness and incorporating it into their daily lives at school, we empower them to be their best.
This year, while teaching online, she’s incorporating a variety of mindful activities including the Heart of a Hero journal with her students. “So much can change within our classrooms if we show our children ways to slow down and be aware of their minds and bodies.” Palmieri is also sharing her journey in teaching grade 2 & 3 virtually on @kindnessclassroom, as she incorporates mindfulness, growth mindset, and kindness.
When students have ways to cope with their emotions, and build strategies that support their resilience, they can handle challenges both academically and socially. And if mindfulness isn’t something that your child’s teacher focuses on currently, it isn’t too late! You could incorporate activities like journaling, yoga, and affirmations in your home life.
Here are some ideas for activities we do at home:
- Nature walks as a family
- A gratitude jar
- Family conversations
- Focus on growth mindset over results - applies to everything from academics to sports
If you find helpful tools, many often make digital versions available to teachers so you can share them with your child’s teacher. The more kids that are learning these strategies, the better! Isn’t it exciting to know that change can start at home, and we can change the world one child’s mind at a time?