Mind over matter: How mindfulness is boosting classroom-concentration

Lauren Stout

Lauren Stout is a Reception and Year One teacher, based at both Pott Shrigley and St John’s Church Schools Federation.

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After enrolling on a mindfulness course, I embarked upon a personal journey into mindfulness and its benefits. It is something I felt so passionately about that I decided to bring mindfulness into the classroom. There are many definitions of mindfulness out there, but the one I choose to share with the children is “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now with kindness and curiosity” (www.mindfulnessfoundation.org).

"As teachers, I feel we are always telling children to concentrate and pay attention and we spend our days modelling to them what we want them to learn."

I believe that enabling children to practice daily mindful techniques in the classroom is key to teaching them how to approach life experiences in and outside of the classroom, with compassion and an open mind. I feel that by giving children room to breathe and time to reflect, they are more able to identify their strengths, address their challenges and be better equipped to see what is happening around them in a clear and objective way.

I often tell my class that being mindful is the same as pausing, taking a breath and holding a mirror up to yourself and a situation and appreciating what is happening in the present moment. As teachers, I feel we are always telling children to concentrate and pay attention and we spend our days modelling to them what we want them to learn. However, we rarely take the time to teach them how to concentrate and how to focus their minds, which is surely a vital part of their learning process and one we often take for granted.

This is where I believe mindful techniques in the classroom play a huge role, as it can help develop the following skills: children are more able to calm themselves down when they are angry or upset, they learn to develop compassion, they find it easier to concentrate and ignore distractions, and it can also help them and self aware.

In Class One we do daily mindfulness exercises and have an open discussion about what it means to be mindful. With the help of our owl friend, Mindful Mike, we are all feeling the benefits of these short exercises. Some of our favourites include peer massage, using our gratitude rocks to discuss what we are grateful for and also taking some time to visit the special places that we have designed in our imagination in order to relax, reflect and refocus our minds.

How do you embrace mindfulness in the classroom? Let us know in the comments.

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