At Little Forest Folk, we dedicate ourselves to helping our children become the best they can be and to equip them with the key skills they need to be happy and fulfilled in their lives. In these busy times in which we live, a skill we believe is of vital importance for children to master from a young age is mindfulness.
“We spend far too much time worrying about the future, rehashing the past and not enough time enjoying and experiencing life in the present.”
Mindfulness is all about learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity, kindness and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, it trains us to explore and respond skilfully to whatever is happening right now.
In essence, mindfulness and the ability to be present in the now is a skill which once mastered and practised will have incredible benefits to children’s emotional wellbeing, ability to manage stress and their ability to listen rather than hear. It will allow them to recognise and identify their own emotions and feelings and teach them how to help themselves feel good inside.
Mindfulness is such a powerful tool for life that it is now being practised in many schools over the UK, however it’s rarely practised with 2-5 year olds. So we are embarking upon a training programme which will be a learning curve and a lesson for us all in how such young children can learn most from this practice. As ever our mindfulness training will take place under the guise of play, with storytelling and props helping to set the scene for the relaxing environment.
Mindfulness role models
Our programme for children’s mindfulness practice begins with a 6 week training in both studying and practising mindfulness for our educators. We base our learning system on excellent role modelling, so in order for our children to embrace mindfulness we believe it’s of paramount importance that our adults are able to demonstrate how they benefit from practising it themselves.
It’s also important to us to help our practitioners continually develop, not only in terms of work based training but also personally and so we are very happy to be offering a course in mindfulness to our practitioners. We hope it will make their world a better place.
Our staff training encompasses:
- Puppy training
Learning the basics of how to aim and sustain attention, with fun and relaxing breathing based exercises we can do at home.
- The David Attenborough attitude
Learning how to be curious about our experience, using body based exercises, lying down.
- A walk in the woods
It’s easier to be mindful in a quiet room with no distractions, but what about in the middle of everyday life? Learning ways to bring mindfulness to daily activities such as walking outdoors in our forest.
- Getting off the thought bus
Learning how to question and step back from our thinking, getting off the bus of stressful thoughts and keeping our equilibrium
- Keeping our cool
Learning the difference between responding and reacting, to help us learn to become better facilitators
- Getting friendly
Bringing mindfulness into interpersonal relationships – specifically through listening and communication practices.
During our first training session, we were fascinated to learn more about how the brain works and to consolidate our feelings about the importance of mindfulness.
Our breathing exercises began the basics of teaching us how to control our brains to exploit the feeling of being in the present and being self-aware. It was an incredibly rewarding session in which we had the bonus side effect of feeling relaxed whilst also working on our mental and physical awareness and wellbeing.
“We can’t wait to learn more and to become regular practitioners of mindfulness.”
We feel each forest site may need to identify a mindfulness tree so we can embed this practice into our day to day lives.
Mindfulness in the forest
And then the fun with the children begins… mindfully sitting, breathing, listening, mindful movement and stretching, smelling, tasting and eating!
We love being part of such a progressive organisation where we constantly strive to improve and push our educators and children to be the best they can be.
About the author
Leanna Barrett is passionate about giving children the childhood they deserve. She believes that all children deserve a childhood where they are active, inspired, joyful and where they enjoy a deep connection to nature. Leanna believes learning in the early years should be child led and play based, accompanied by deeply engaged and inspiring practitioners. Little Forest Folk believe wisdom begins in wonder and see their role to ignite the flames of passion for learning.
You can contact Leanna via Twitter @littlforestfolk, website, Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org