In today’s fast-paced world, eliminating distractions can prove harder than ever. It can be incredibly challenging for students to stay attentive and focused in the classroom. Everywhere on the globe, the nature of the educational system is evolving. And the idea of raising children solely to produce a well-prepared workforce is being replaced with the concept of raising intelligent individuals capable of active involvement in the modern world. And one of the methods for that is practicing mindfulness in the classroom.
With the number of K-12 students reporting symptoms of depression and other psychiatric issues on the rise since the early 2000s, it is clear something must be done. As educators come to understand the significance of social-emotional competencies for academic achievement, many schools are incorporating mindfulness training to help students cope with stress, increase their focus, and foster a positive learning environment.
But What Is Mindfulness?
According to Black and Fernando (2013), mindfulness includes intentionally developing mindful awareness by dedicating attention to the present moment. More straightforwardly, it is attending to the present moment and being fully present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and environment.
It involves focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s experiences without trying to change or resist them. It has been demonstrated to have a variety of advantages. Some of these are lowering stress and anxiety, enhancing cognitive performance, and improving general well-being. Practicing mindfulness is frequently practiced in everyday life and is also making its way into schools.
What Are Some of the Ways of Practicing Mindfulness in K-12 Schools?
The goal of practicing mindfulness in the classroom is to help students feel balanced, focused, and ready to learn. This may include simple activities such as deep breathing and noticing the sounds and sights in the room. It can be more dynamic, like giving students time to think and discuss their emotions. Whatever the practices are, you should exercise them in the long term because experts associate this with positive results. And what are five of the reasons you should incorporate practicing mindfulness into your classroom?
#1 Improving Students’ Well-being
Mindfulness has proved itself as an efficient method for managing stress and anxiety. Students learn how to react to internal and external pressure by better understanding their emotions and feelings. For example, they know how to respond to self-doubts and criticism and handle anxiety by acknowledging all the sensations around them and letting them be felt and processed. Improved well-being also means better sleep, increased energy levels, and improved overall mood.
#2 Improving Self-regulation
Seeing how much time students spend in school, that is where they learn the most about social interactions and emotional management. Mindfulness in the classroom is one of the tried-and-true techniques you can use to raise students’ emotional intelligence. By learning the fundamentals of mindfulness, they increase awareness of their feelings and the people around them. Additionally, it helps with dealing with uncomfortable feelings and developing greater empathy for others.
#3 Enhancing Cognitive Skills
It has been shown that mindfulness enhances cognitive performance when responding to time-sensitive activities. According to research, students who practiced mindfulness training did better on tests because their memory and reading comprehension skills were improved.
#4 Improving Focus and Attention
There is only so much a K-12 student can focus on at once, especially with the countless distractions they face daily. But luckily, students’ attention and focus are also something that you can increase by practicing mindfulness in the classroom. By teaching them to be present at the moment and focus on their breathing, you can help students avoid distractions and maintain concentration on the task at hand. This can be particularly helpful for students who struggle to maintain focus during lengthy lessons.
#5 Better Emotional and Social Intelligence and Improved Compassion
In the K-12 environment, students learn most about interacting with others and managing their emotions. Such a setting grooms social skills needed for life and exposes many students to occurrences such as bullying. By practicing mindfulness, you can promote a more positive and caring classroom environment. When they acknowledge the importance of their feelings and the feelings of others, they start cultivating empathy and compassion toward others.
And That Is Why You Need To Practice Mindfulness in Your Classroom
To conclude, mindfulness in the classroom can be a beautiful way of giving your students that extra something. Remember – not all learning has to be about memorizing words and numbers. If you start fostering such routines, you will undoubtedly see the results in your students. Just a simple daily routine can be a way of teaching them how to be kinder to themselves and others.
 The New K-12 Mental Health Landscape
 Black, D. S., & Fernando, R. (2014). Mindfulness training and classroom behavior among lower-income and ethnic minority elementary school children. Journal of child and family studies, 23(7), 1242-1246.
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