Mindfulness. One of the things I have noticed more and more working with young children is their tendency to take
on too much, just as we do as adults. Young children see, feel, experience and sense the reality of a
busy family life too. Early mornings getting to before-care, school routines filled with deadlines,
navigation of traffic and after school activities on top of family weekend commitments and weekend
social engagements running all the way into Sunday evening make for an intense week even for small
As a mum, a teacher, a counsellor and an avid yogi, one of things that I see as making a huge
difference to a young child’s day is the gift of mindfulness. Mindfulness is perhaps another way of
describing meditation, relaxation or paying attention to the present or the “here-and- now”. The
techniques for achieving mindfulness can be as creative and as inventive as one wishes them to be,
however the purpose remains the same. In bringing the mind and body to a place of silence and
stillness, even just for a moment, the benefits seen in young children can be quite profound.
Some of the ways I am able to encourage mindfulness in the classroom include sensory play with clay
or sand, something as simple as water play can also produce an almost meditative state for some
children. Using dimmed lighting, soft materials, candles and music can support the realisation of
mindfulness in the classroom. Bringing the children’s attention to a place of stillness and inviting them
to close their eyes and feel into their body is a way of shifting their awareness to themselves rather
than what is happening around them. It is this shift in awareness that I believe is the key to
Young children can be encouraged and guided through meditations or breathing exercises which
enable them to slow down. By giving them the opportunity to be more present and conscious of their
body, they then can start to articulate feelings and think more intuitively throughout the day. They
can become more aware of the relationship between what their body is doing and what they are
feeling as they expand their thinking. Mindfulness can re-energise children and provide clarity for
thinking, improved decision-making and increased concentration.
Yoga is another way of incorporating mindfulness into the classroom. Yoga is exercise for the mind as
much as the body, and is a wonderful way for children to get out of their head and into their body.
Yoga can be especially therapeutic for children who experience anxiety or who find it particularly
tricky to sit still for extended periods of time.
Young children feel stress too. I often see children in the classroom who are overwhelmed, anxious
and exhausted, and I think to myself “what is the hurry for these children? Why are they feeling so
stressed at such a young age?” We want children to feel as though they can honour and respect what
their bodies need from a very young age. We want them to feel and experience success, peace, joy
and love as much as possible.
Director of Kindergarten
Image thanks to: http://www.vitalityunleashed.com.au