By Olivia Jardine
With direct access to children and young people, schools have the opportunity to play a significant role in promoting wellness and positive emotional development in their students.
One way to promote wellness in your classroom is with mindfulness and meditation, which calms students, helps prevent emotional health disorders, like anxiety, from developing, and reduces stress on a daily basis.
Studies have found that these practices physically change the brain, leading to shrinking in the parts of the brain associated with stress and growth. By making this a priority in the classroom, you set students up for success in every area of their life.
Luckily, there are plenty of apps and tools you can use to facilitate meditation and mindfulness in the classroom and these eight are a great place to start.
Prepare to bring mindfulness into your classroom with a little help.
The UK’s teaching association for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education have produced a free comprehensive resource on providing lessons materials on helping students improve mental health and emotional wellbeing. The guide includes lesson plans that can be applied in your classroom; ideal for use with students aged 7 to 16 and free to download.
Edutopia worked with Daniel Goleman, a social and emotional learning expert and the best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence, to create a series of videos about helping children find focus and improve mindfulness.
In one video, Daniel talks about a breathing exercise called Breathing Buddies, designed for second graders. Each student places a stuffed animal on their tummy, and breathes in and out, counting up to three and back down to one, watching the rise and fall of the stuffed animal. This is called “training of the attentional circuitry,” which improves focus and helps them manage distressing emotions.
Before you can help students improve their mindfulness, you need to do the same for yourself. Headpsace offers a 7-day free trial, and each day there’s a new, guided mediation. Each meditation is just 10 minutes long, so it’s easy to make time for in the morning, during lunch or right before bed.
Find the Tools
These apps are a great way to introduce mindfulness to your students.
Smiling Mind is a meditation app available for Android or iOS, designed specifically for use with children and young people. The programs are divided up by age group, starting with 7 to 11 years, and are free to use.
In general, the mindfulness sessions are designed to reduce worries, anxiety and stress, while enhancing awareness, concentration and creativity. Their education-specific section offers 249 sessions over 72 modules, with easy-to-use lesson plans and programs, providing you with ideas on how to bring mindfulness to the classroom.
This Spiderman script from Kids Relaxation is perfect for younger students. The script allows you to talk your students through the “super power senses” of Spiderman—ultra hearing, ultra seeing, ultra touching, ultra smelling and ultra sense—all while sitting quietly and relaxed in your classroom.
The Mindfulness App provides mindfulness tracks for students to follow along with that last between 3 to 30 minutes. The short time frame makes it easier to keep the attention of younger students, while longer tracks can be used with older students, or those who may need more time in meditation and mindfulness training.
Find room in an already-busy schedule for the awesome ideas.
With less and less time on your plate, you may be wondering how you’ll find time to add this into the schedule on top of everything else. A task management app like MeisterTask is a great way to manage your time and make room for mindfulness.
Find more great apps for managing your time: 12 Apps for the Busy Teacher