In Just Three Minutes: Mindfulness Strengthens Students’ Focus

The beginning of the school year is all about routines and procedures. Teaching students how to line up. Where to return materials. How to choose a book from the classroom library. It is also the perfect time to teach mindfulness, according to an article in Education Week.

Maura Bradley, the author of Mindfulness for Kids, defines mindfulness as “paying attention to where you are, what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling—all at the same time.”

In 2015, Lisa Mazinas a reading specialist at Candlebrook Elementary School in King of Prussia, Pa., participated in an eight-week mindfulness stress-reduction course.

She decided to teach the same exercises (simplified) to her students during their morning meeting. Each day, the 20-plus students spent two to three minutes practicing mindfulness.

The first lesson that Mazinas teaches her students is to sit in their “mindful bodies.” Sitting this way helps to facilitate the different techniques to follow.

  • Sit cross-legged on the floor, with your back straight.
  • Place your hands gently on your knees or legs.
  • Close your eyes.

More mindfulness exercises:

Five-Finger Breathing. 

  • Hold up one hand with your palm facing away from your body.
  • With your pointer finger from the opposite hand, inhale and simultaneously trace your pointer finger up the left side of your thumb.
  • As you exhale, trace down the other side of your thumb.
  • Continue this way, inhaling and exhaling, with the other four fingers.

 

Anchor Breathing. 

This is a good technique to try anytime you feel your students need to refocus or feel nervous.

  • Get in your mindful body, close your eyes, and put your hand on your stomach.
  • Take a deep inhale and exhale.
  • Next, move your hand to your chest, inhaling and exhaling, before repeating the activity with your throat.
  • Where did you feel your breath the most? That place is your anchor spot.
  • Continue by taking a few deep breaths in and out, focusing attention on the anchor spot.

 

20 Breaths

  • Close your eyes.
  • Take an inhale and exhale. That is one breath.
  • Continuing inhaling and exhaling, counting 10 breaths. When you reach 10, count backwards through 0.

 

Thought Train. 

Instead of letting our thoughts carry us away, we can observe them as we would cars on a passing train. As they pass by, we stay grounded in the present moment.

  • As you breathe in and out, silently state, “inhale” and “exhale.”
  • When you notice a thought, refocus your attention to your breath by repeating “inhale” and “exhale.”

 

Education Week

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