Mindfulness Activities For Children

Please read the introduction below before downloading this resource.

mindfulness practices for children Mindfulness: Practices For Children

Edition One: The Basics – 2015 Edition.

DOWNLOAD

.

Introduction:

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is concentrating on what is at the forefront of your mind, in the present moment, with insight & compassion. Mindfulness practices are often intentional and systemic ways of developing a compassionate and insightful presence to an activity.

Focus on the breath is a key facet of mindfulness practice. Neuroscience shows that this makes us aware of the subjectiveness and transient nature of thoughts and emotions, rather than them being something unmoveable and permanent.

It allows there to be space between day-to-day stimulus and automatic reaction.

Stimulus ->           ! ! !        -> Reaction

Stimulus -> Space/Time -> Response

How this resource should be used

The teaching of mindfulness practices to children is actually only a small aspect of what constitutes a ‘mindful pedagogy’ and bringing all the possible benefits of mindfulness to children.

Other important factors to consider are:

You as an educator having a practice. Children benefit most from mindfulness if their teacher practices it themselves. By having a mindfulness practice of your own you create a compassionate and nurturing environment for children to learn in. It also means you have a strong ‘subject knowledge’ for which to fall back on and not only rely on these type of resources (or pedagogical knowledge). The best teachers are the ones that have a combination of good subject knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and passion for what they teach. Mindfulness should be no different. There is nothing wrong with learning along with the children for a while but for more details on creating your own practice please visit my website. mindfulintheclassroom.wordpress.com

The school having a ‘culture’ of mindfulness. If this material is taught out of context in a school not based on an ethos of mindfulness and a school which doesn’t hold the concepts of mindfulness in highest of regards – benefits of these activities will remain limited. Again, if you are looking to provide a ‘mindful culture’ in your school please visit my website for more details.

Continue your own CPD. Continue to be creative and look to develop your understanding of mindfulness. Create new ideas, research and look for the connections between mindfulness and subjects within the curriculum.  Please share these and any other questions or experience on my website or via twitter @ryoungdharma or the hashtag #mindfuledchat for great ideas.

Finally enjoy yourself!

This Is How You Integrate Mindfulness & Learning

mindful mind skills

‘It is about maximising children’s learning potential through good teaching and the proper application of evidence about how children develop and learn and how happy teachers teach more effectively.’

‘Any school which strives to educate the whole person should also ensure proper academic standards.’

– The Elephant’s footprint

Exploring, knowing, understanding and making sense

To enable children to encounter and be able to explore the wealth of human experience through introduction to and active engagement in, the different ways through which we make sense of our world and act upon it: intellectual, ethical, spiritual, creative, social, emotional and physical; through language, mathematics, science, the humanities, the arts, religion and other ways of knowing and understanding. Learning is grounded in a mixture of amazement and curiosity which constitutes childhood wonder. Further to this we would encourage children to know & celebrate how the learning strategies they employ are closely related to many mindful principles.

Learning Strategies* Mindful Principles
Managing Distractions, Noticing & Present Moment Right Mindfulness, Right Effort & Meditation
Responding (Not Reacting), Thinking Aloud, Thinking Time & Responsibility Right Mindfulness & Right Concentration
Meta-learning, Reflection, Revising & Planning Impermanence, Interdependence, Meditation, Wisdom
Making Links, Questioning & Trying Things Out. Right Effort, Patience, Meditation
Listening, Empathy & Collaboration Interdependence, Loving Kindness, Right Speech, Right Action,  The Middle Way, Patience

 *Based on Guy Claxton’s (Co-author of the Elephant’s Footprint) work on learnacy. [http://www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk/images/blpia_extract.pdf]

Fostering skilful behaviours

To foster in children skilful behaviours on which learning and a rewarding ethical life most depend: mindfulness practices,  mindful speaking & deep listening, inquiry & debate, literacy, mathematics, science, information technology, the creative and performing arts; but also in practical activities: communication, compassion, creativity, invention, mindfulness, problem-solving & reflection.

Exciting the imagination

To excite children’s imagination in order that they can advance beyond present understanding, extend the boundaries of their lives, contemplate a world possible as well as actual, understand cause and effect, develop the capacity for empathy, and reflect on and regulate their behaviour; to explore and test language, ideas and arguments in activity and form of thought. To experience the delights – and pains – of imagining, and of entering into the imaginative world of others, is to become a more rounded person.

Enacting right-speech & deep listening

Right speech & deep listening can help children grasp that learning and reflecting on mindfulness practices is communal and that understanding builds through joint activity & potentially promotes wisdom. To help children recognise that knowledge is not only transmitted but also negotiated and re-created. To continue to advance our pedagogy in which dialogue is central: between self and others, between present and past, between different ways of making sense.

By listening to our pupils we will become a better schools. If a school is an advocate of children’s voices. They will recognise the importance of listening to their learners and their opinions about their school and their education and indeed the children are invited to input into their ‘community curriculum’.

What children have to say:

Managing Distractions

Ignoring chats when you’re supposed to is one aspect of managing distractions. It’s when I try to put a stop to anything that might cause me to stop learning. It’s an important skill to practice because it helps you learn better. (For example if someone is doing funny faces try and ignore them. Try focusing your mind on your own work).

Noticing

Noticing is an important skill because many amazing things happen in the day and it’s sad to miss things.

Perseverance

This skill is important to practice. It is when we keep trying even when things look difficult.

Present Moment

Focusing on what is happening now. It is an important skill because if you don’t focus on the here and now you can be confused or you can miss out on what is happening in the now.

Reflecting

Is a very important skill because it allows us to look at something we have done and gives us a second chance for example; My dad was once shouting down the phone and I shouted “Stop shouting.” I reflected on this in the afternoon and realised that it wasn’t a very good idea to shout myself.

Meta-Learning.

Meta-learning is knowing how you learn best and what you find is the easiest way for you to learn. For example some people are tactile learners, they need to you use their hands. Some are visual and some like to listen best. It is also about knowing who is best to work with on certain topics and who is maybe better to avoid due to distractions.

Revising

Revising is an important skill that we practice. Sometimes our teacher sends us back to look over our work because it could be wrong or need changing (but not always) it gives us a second chance to think again (revise it).

Planning

This skill is important because if you don’t plan, you don’t know what you are doing! And the thing that you want to do is more likely to fail!

Trying Things Out

Not saying no. This skill is important because it’s when I take a risk with something You’ve never done before. You might miss out on something you really like or are good at.

Questioning

Sometimes it is good to question the things we read or hear. This can help us get a better understanding or change our opinion on something.

Reasoning

Having a reason for doing or saying something. Explaining why my answer is right is reasoning in maths.

Making Links

This skill is important because it helps us make a web of knowledge and helps us use our knowledge in different subjects. For example today we were learning about shapes and space, we learnt that half a sphere is called a hemisphere. We soon made a link between this maths knowledge our geography knowledge. Because the globe is made up of two hemispheres.

Interdependence

Doing something with others. This is important because when we are older we have to work well with all different types of people. Understanding that we all share the space and are connected.

Listening

Listening and not talking. This skill is important because it helps me learn from other people’s ideas. It also helps me understand other people’s opinions & points of view.

Collaboration

This is when we work hard as a class to achieve something. This is an important skill because if we work well together we can achieve more.

Empathy

Trying to know how someone else is feeling. This skill is important because how I react to someone can make that person feel happier.

Responding not reacting

Mind before mouth. This skill is important because you might hurt someone else and regret it afterwards.

Links between children learning programming & mindfulness.

Mindfulness & Computing

403240765_3f4e8afd04_o

Computational thinking skills are at the heart of the new computing curriculum in UK. It’s a powerful way of solving problems. It will now be a tool in the problem solving toolset that pupils leave school with. It will equip them to not only understand the digital world, but will also compliment their understanding of mindfulness and the human world.

Computational thinking or ‘computer-like’ thinking is to use computational or computational like models where pupils act out computation in different situations. When computers ‘think’, it is similar to being in a state of mindfulness because

  1. They have to ensure they’re in the present moment or else the model breaks.
  2. They have to be aware of every step they take in the series or else the same problems arise.

Example:

A programming lesson where children are asked to write the complete instructions for making a jam sandwich for a robot to carry out. They will naturally carry out the task themselves trying to note down everything they do as part of the process. This is a mindful activity and is a metaphor for children to understand how computers think.

Computational thinking makes for a much more interesting subject than if computing were just about programming – it is much more than that! These skills are not in themselves unique and as explained above are transferable to mindfulness teaching.

Computational thinking skills can most definitively be brought into life problems just as mindful skills can – indeed both are incredibly comparable. Computation is something you could argue monks and nuns have been attempting to achieve for thousands of years.

‘Algorithmic thinking’ is at the heart of this. The core idea is that the solution to a problem isn’t just getting an answer; it is the algorithm – the process. Just because you have completed a Rubik’s cube, doesn’t mean you have solved it. Just because you have got angry at someone doesn’t mean you have solved your friendship issue and nor is the solution to life the number 42. – It’s about viewing, editing ‘debugging’ and improving the processes.

The teaching of algorithms has already been happening in primary schools for years. When we learn how to do addition or multiplication we are just learning an algorithm. Once you have an algorithm for doing multiplication you can multiply any numbers together as long as we carefully follow the steps. We aren’t always good at doing that which is why many of us find maths hard. Of course following instructions precisely is exactly what computers are good at, and that is why computational thinking is linked to computing, but it can transform the way we think about human work too.

Computational thinkers gain an understanding of the world about them that makes them able to model things from a variety of perspectives and this compliments mindful activity. Mindful activity should also help produce better computational thinkers. There are all sorts of activities that may be viewed as computational processes, eating a tangerine, cleaning your teeth, washing up, drinking a cup of tea and dare I say even meditation. Instructive in different ways, computational thinking will be usable for children throughout their lives.

Mindfulness & ICT teaching can work together.

There is no question that ICT hardware such as interactive whiteboards, mobile technology or software such as educational games can help improve pupils’ learning if used creatively and intelligently.

The aim of any 2015 ICT teaching is surely to produce pupils who are confident, safe, healthy & ethical learners who can access and use ICT as an essential life skill which enhances their ability to communicate, create and collaborate.

There also needs to be an understanding that technology is everywhere and has the potential to positively change children’s lives. However, we should also recognise the amount of time children spend in front of screens and the potential harm this could cause them. We have a commitment to ensure children leave school with the skills to adapt and use technology successfully & should ensure this through both traditional ICT lessons and the promotion of ‘unplugged computing’.

Unplugged computing allows children to learn all about the ICT curriculum through offline games & problem solving activities which behave as computers would traditionally. Children will carry out true ICT learning without needing to use computers.

In terms of mindfulness & Buddhist principles, ICT lessons provide children with opportunities to understand globalisation and the interconnected nature of our modern world through positive & contextualised use of the internet.

meditation and mindfulness for children

Through learning about e-safety and through our topics on social networking for children children are provided a real context in which to practice our child friendly 5 precepts and see how they should still apply to the online world.

The Five Precepts

  1. I will try not to harm anyone or anything in our school.
  2. I will try to be caring towards the people I share the school with.
  3. I will try to keep healthy and keep my mind calm.
  4. I will ask when I want to borrow something and share.
  5. I will try to be truthful and use mindful speech.

This includes looking after our equipment and sharing it, caring for the online community and being mindful in the way we speak online, thinking about copyright issues and plagiarism and thinking about how we can healthily and constructively use technology for good. Through programming, algorithms and instructional writing children can see the relationships between computational thinking and the act of Right Mindfulness – Concentrating on what is at the forefront of your mind, the present moment, and acknowledging its relationship to loving kindness & compassion.