End of School Chaos: Four Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Classroom Amidst the Craze

mindfulness picture

The last weeks of the school year are an exciting time. There are end of year ceremonies and recitals and picnics and parties, and with the warmer days and blossoming trees comes the buzzing reminder that graduation is fast approaching and summer is just around the corner. But while this time of year is precious, it can also be overwhelming and emotional for students, parents and teachers alike. Incorporating mindfulness techniques into the classroom is a great way for teachers to keep students calm and centered, and to keep stress levels at bay during this hectic time.

Anyone with a teaching job knows that students learn most effectively when they feel relaxed; this is why integrating mindfulness techniques and wellness programs into school curriculums is becoming more and more commonplace (see examples at Kent Denver, Andover, and Riverdale).

The end of the year is a time when employing these centering techniques can be more valuable than ever, and not just for students. By incorporating mindfulness into the classroom, educators will in turn reap the benefits of these practices. After all, jobs in education require calm and happy teachers, resulting in a calm and happy classroom. Here are three simple ways to teach students mindfulness amidst end of year chaos:

  1.  Breathe

Pausing to take a few unified, guided breaths tunes students into the present moment, cultivating a mindful and relaxed classroom environment. Teachers can start and end classes with collective breathing exercises, or perhaps pause to breathe in the middle of a lesson. When the attention turns to the breath, the mind naturally starts to slow down. Stopping to notice the breath is a simple and accessible form of meditation that anyone with a teaching position can use in the classroom.

  1.  Sensory Experiences 

Sensory experiences help students feel focused and calm. Playing relaxing music, classical music, or a calming sound machine during class time is a great technique that teachers can employ. Allow students to focus on their sense of smell by creating mind jars – do this by placing items with strong, familiar smells into jars (such as pencil shavings, popcorn, flowers, etc.), then have students close their eyes, smell the jars and take turns guessing the item. The same activity can be done with touch – blindfold students and have them guess what they are touching. Having students play creatively with clay or Play-Doh is also a great technique for mindfulness. To emphasize the sensory experience of sight, trying playing “I Spy” as a class game.

  1.  Movement

Movement is a natural part of human life and a wonderful way to cultivate mindfulness. Incorporate intentional movement into the classroom through techniques such as yoga or dance. Allow students to connect with their bodies and calm their minds in the process. Even if it’s just a quick ten-minute yoga session in the classroom, mindful movement can be tremendously helpful for over stimulated brains.

  1.  S.T.O.P.

Teaching can be a tough job, especially during busier times of the year. Teachers and students can both benefit from tools used to navigate big and difficult emotions. A great technique is S.T.O.P.: Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed. Teaching students to S.T.O.P. when they feel overwhelmed or anxious will allow them to notice the stress within their bodies, and encourage them to pause and reflect before acting.

 

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