8 Simple Ways To Help Children Be More Mindful During The School Day
P – Presence
What does it mean to be present?
We don’t mean to be just physically present (that’s the easy part!), we’re talking about being both mentally and deeply connected to the present moment we physically place ourselves in.
As a society dominated by distractions, this can be one of the hardest challenges we face. On a daily basis, we can physically place ourselves in many situations only to find that 15 minutes in, our minds may start to wander and we zone out.
No matter your age, our brains crave sensory stimulation. However, the true skill and appreciation comes when you can create a balance that allows you to be solely in the present moment.
When heading outside into nature, how many times have you felt truly present?
At some point, we have all been guilty of listening to music whilst walking or taking pictures to capture a moment, but not really stopping to soak up the beauty of our surroundings.
The skill of being present in nature creates a ripple effect into the classroom and beyond. The secret is that we don’t have to teach children, they can teach us.
Have you ever watched in awe as children naturally roll and fall to the ground gazing at the clouds or spying wildlife up a tree, the way they instinctively want to lift logs to find a city of insects or whizz around, arms stretched out, imitating a passing bird or role playing their vivid imaginations? Follow their natural and wild lead.
E – Embrace
Embrace your surroundings and develop their minds to appreciate being present.
It’s guaranteed that if you were to lie down on the ground, you would naturally have inquisitive followers.
Alternatively, encourage all the children to lie down and once you have offered the initial guidance, join in and continue your guidance from the same level as them.
Embrace the sounds, the smells, the movement of fresh air on your skin, watch the clouds dance above you. Breathe it deeply in and breathe it slowly out. Enjoy the moment.
N – Notice
There is no denying that our pace of life is fast. The bustle of our daily lives can leave us feeling as though we have very little time to slow down and notice our surroundings.
With children spending 25-30 hours a week at school, the education system has a wonderful opportunity to instil the dedication to be reflective and notice their emotions. Many see academic and wellbeing as two separate areas.
However, if utilised effectively, the two can become naturally intertwined and apart of school life. Letting your curriculum shine in your outside space will provide a rewarding and relatable experience for children.
By encouraging the combination of outdoor learning and mindfulness the improvements to academic and emotional wellbeing will benefit not just the children, but also the staff.
"There is clear evidence that emotional wellbeing is a key indicator of academic achievement, and subsequently improved outcomes in later life" - Young Minds
T - Touch
When outdoors, encourage children to place themselves at different levels and touch what they see.
There are touchable textures all around – wet, fallen leaves, the ripples of bark or the variety of materials found within an outside space.
When we close our eyes our other senses naturally ignite. Supporting this sensory connection and natural curiosity is sure to actively boost their confidence and courage.
A – Appreciate
Step into the outdoors and take a look all around. Listen to the sounds, embrace the weather and appreciate nature.
Taking time to sit and breathe in our surroundings has a positive impact on our mental health.
Children will naturally charge around the outdoor space but encouraging them to stop and focus on their environment will establish a deeper connection and respect for nature.
Appreciating the birdsong in spring or the fallen leaves of autumn will be the foundations in creating an appreciation for how wonderful our World truly is.
"Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better – Albert Einstein"
G – Grounding
Sitting amongst nature provides an unbeatable feeling of grounding. It is possibly one of the quickest and simplest things you can do to calm your inner voice.
Taking the time to stop and connect with your surroundings will reward you and your class with immeasurable benefits. Sit or lie down, feel the Earth support your body, close your eyes and focus on where your body meets the ground.
A great way to explore this further is to challenge the children to run around and when given a signal, they stand still, sit or lie down, close their eyes and engage in the silence.
Ask them to focus on slowing their breathing and to think about what they can hear, smell and how it makes them feel?
O – Opportunity
Presence takes practise. Life is a mix of emotions so this isn’t always going to be easy to do.
A variety of dynamics will play a part in how well this works, but consistency is the key. Adding just 10 minutes of outdoor mindfulness to your daily routine will leave you reaping the rewards in the classroom.
Providing the opportunity to reconnect to nature through mindfulness is a positive way to support mental health and establish essential life skills.
N – Natural Adventures
Don’t let the weather put you off, let Pentagon take away your weather woes.
Our Outdoor Classrooms will provide you with the ideal shelter to put your new daily practise into action.
With a commitment to a natural learning environment and the promotion of mindfulness, children will begin to reflect on their own ‘mindful moments’ that they may have otherwise missed.
If you’d like to transform your outdoor learning environment to improve your children’s educational play experience, please Contact Us for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our expert playground consultants.