A lot of times I will hear from teachers that there is no time for mindfulness in class. I totally understand this. Pressures from higher-up and disruptive classrooms can cause a lull in getting through the curriculum and add to a teacher’s workload, creating more stress and pressure to get things done. Totally understood.
My argument to “there is no time” is this: if your students are disruptive or feeling pressured, they’re not learning that math problem anyway. Keep in mind that pressure, stress, and tension are felt by everyone- if you are getting pressure from higher-up and feeling pressured yourself, so are your students.
So, if they’re not learning anyway, isn’t it worth it to at least try to add some mindfulness to your classroom and bring your students back to focus on that math problem? What have you got to lose?
And maybe it won’t work. But at least you will know. And at least you tried.
Clearly, as a yoga and mindfulness instructor, I’m an advocate for these practices. But I’m not dumb enough to think they’re everyone’s cup of tea. All I’m asking is that you try it.
The key thing to remember about mindfulness, particularly in the classroom, is that it is not all about meditation. While the two are very much intertwined, meditation and mindfulness are not the same thing. Mindfulness in the classroom means promoting social-emotional wellbeing.
Sign up for Creating Mindful Classrooms, an online course encouraging social-emotional learning and wellbeing in education using mindfulness!
For children, mindfulness includes games and activities, stories and songs about making friends, building positive relationships, learning about emotions and how they affect you and those around you, building self-esteem, positive affirmations and visualization, dreaming big, healthy living, conflict resolution, and positive communication. The list goes on and on and on.
This is the same for teens, although mindfulness for teens also moves toward more meditative techniques.
I’m a huge advocate for social-emotional learning in the classroom. I think it should be an actual class, added to the core curriculum, that students have to take. There are so many increased demands and pressure on our students- and not just at school. But our society has changed and our education system has failed to change with it.
Students are less able to control their emotions, manage their stress and anxiety levels, and develop positive relationships (particularly with the rise in social media). It is important that we teach our students how to do all of these things in order for them to grow into happy, healthy, well-rounded adults.
But anyway.. even if social-emotional learning isn’t part of our education system, there are still ways that it can be incorporated into the classroom.
As you might have guessed, I suggest mindfulness.
One way to include mindfulness in your classroom is to use mindfulness apps.
Mindfulness apps can help students to learn about things such as self-control, managing their emotions, bullying, time management, and how to better focus. All of which lead to improved cognitive ability, higher grade scores, as well as improved self-esteem and interpersonal relationships.
This is not an exhaustive list of the benefits of mindfulness. For a full list of benefits, read my essay about yoga and mindfulness in the classroom.
Here for short version.
Here for long version.
Mindfulness apps are great for the classroom. Even if you don’t have time to have a full mindfulness session in class, simply having the lulling sounds on in the background while students are writing an assignment or test may help students to feel more relaxed and more confident in what they are doing.
In the classroom, mindfulness apps can be used…
- when students are upset or acting out. Have a “Mindfulness Corner” (or “Calm Corner”, whatever you want to call it) where students can relax in a quiet place using a mindfulness app as a guide to relax and regain control of their emotions.
- during recess. For example, it is raining and your students cannot go outside for recess, give them a mindfulness app or play a mindfulness game so students can learn about an aspect of social-emotional wellbeing
- in English/language arts- have students read a book about a certain social-emotional aspect such as bullying/get them to write a story about a particular social-emotional aspect/give them a writing prompt about a particular social-emotional aspect
- during reading time- some schools have a “reading time” where students can choose a book and spend time reading it. Have books in your classroom that pertain to aspects such as manners, cleaning up, bullying, being yourself, etc. Click for a list of books for preschool, children, teens, and for educators to use in the classroom
- anywhere!! Mindfulness can really be incorporated into the classroom in so many ways. The possibilities are endless. You just have to see them. Take any opportunity that comes your way. Check out my resources pages for more ideas, games, and other activities about this.
Now, to the apps! I’ve compiled a list of mindfulness apps for kids, teens, and adults for you to try. And the best part? They’re free!
for a list of mindfulness apps for kids,
for mindfulness apps for teens, and
for mindfulness apps for teachers (titled Mindfulness Apps for Adults because they do apply to all adults)!