Mindfulness in the classroom
The modern world today is so much faster paced for children than that of previous generations; we forget to stop and take time to enjoy this moment, right now. The art of mindfulness is so closely linked to our senses that it should enhance any classroom environment.
Mindfulness allows us to fully experience what is happening in the present moment and is an excellent method to focus children’s attention and bring calm to the environment. Taking a few minutes to ‘reset’ each day can be an excellent coping mechanism for children who are overwhelmed at school or as a great way to improve concentration before more challenging tasks.
It all makes sense!
The benefits of sensory play are widely discussed and I am an advocate for more of this in the classroom. What I want to draw attention to is how taking a few minutes focussing on each of the senses each week can also create a deeper learning experience for children.
Mindfulness by senses:
Mindfulness is not just about breathing technique and clearing the mind, but a way of appreciating and realising your thoughts, feelings and body sensations. Taking each sense individually, we heighten its importance as a learning tool.
Sound: Standing outside, get the children to close their eyes and be silent for a minute. Afterwards, list all the things that the children could hear such as birds, cars, rustling leaves.
Sight: Again outside, my favourite is lying and watching the clouds blow over. Discuss cloud shapes too.
Taste: Use something that has a distinct texture, such as a raisin – get the children to move it around their mouth and describe how it feels before they eat it and then talk about taste.
Touch: Feel tubs are fascinating to children, although they can be a little hesitant sometimes about the unknown! Working in small groups, the children take turns feeling what is inside the tub without being able to see it. As they describe what it feels like, they can then guess what it is used for, etc.
Smell: A selection of scent bags with such things as herbs, spices, soap, flowers or fresh fruit and vegetables are perfect for this. Again, get the children to close their eyes as they have a smell. Touch can also be introduced for the trickier ones.
Be in the moment
A strong awareness of sensory experiences is important as it shapes who you are, your likes and dislikes and determines our social and emotional development. Take yourself back to childhood – there will be certain smells and tastes that will bring back special memories, whether is it the smell of baking or the taste of a family recipe. I was reminded of this recently as I watched Disney Pixar’s Inside Out with my children. The premise of this film is that our emotions and senses are what make us who we are and we create memories of life we cherish and look back on. It dawned on me that in the current digital age, our children are in danger of missing the moment! Ask the children in your care what they enjoyed about their day. It is a great way to get them back in the moment and will bank a few more core memories!
About the author
Lisa Lane launched Sensory Scenes in 2014 with the aim to provide themed bags of fun for play, exploring and learning. With three boys of her own, she is passionate about children being able to manipulate, explore and use their imagination. Sensory Scenes’ themed bags are perfect for individual play, sensory tray play and themed subject planning.