Ms. Stephanie along with several other teachers from MTS went to a workshop at the AMS conference titled, Mindfulness: From Childhood to Adolescence. During this workshop, keynote speakers discussed the use of mindfulness and meditation exercises to INCREASE social behavior, self-esteem, and concentration in the classroom. Upon returning, Ms. Stephanie couldn’t wait to spark her student’s mindfulness by implementing a new and fun way to start the day… light a candle, ring a bell, close eyes, focus on posture and breathing… training the mind to pause and think.
So what is practicing mindfulness for a child?
Practicing Mindfulness by definition is being present in each moment, aware of yourself, your feelings and your surroundings, rather than consumed by stress or anxiety. Mindfulness brings with it the ability to remain calm and relaxed in an environment where one is challenged. Focusing on the here and now is the fruit of the principle, while teaching children what they should do with their mind is the purpose. It takes both principle and purpose to achieve maximum application to a child’s daily tasks.
For upper elementary, meditation exercise has improved focus on what is happening now in the classroom, the clarity of each moment helps students remain grounded and centered on their work. Plus, as an added bonus, Ms. Stephanie has noticed random acts of kindness, displays of empathy, and contributions to the classroom needs have increased. Upper Elementary student, Amelia, told us how excited she is to start her day off practicing meditation. She’s noticed it helps her feel more calm and relaxed when at school.
An elementary child’s day to day life can be extremely busy, filled with one thing to the next…home, school, play, eating, shopping, practice, play dates. Even in the most peaceful of homes, children cant help but feel bombarded by the business of life at times. The practice of staying mindful helps to alleviate that sense of panic, anxiety, or cloudiness when a child comes to school so they can truly reap all the benefits and promises of the Montessori classroom.