By Erin Thorkilsen
Director of Associate Teachers, Mindfulness
Developing social-emotional skills in children and preparing them for a life of purpose is at the core of what we do at Greens Farms Academy. Mindfulness provides us a toolbox of exercises and games for “how”—how to help children feel calm, how to focus, how to work with big emotions, and how to be clearer in who they are—tools for life!
It has been a joy to practice mindfulness with your children every Friday during Assembly.
We began by demystifying mindfulness. It is not sitting in lotus pose on a meditation cushion! We defined mindfulness as three things: connecting mind and body, paying attention on purpose, and being kind (to ourselves and others). Students played “tree, hop, chair” to put our new definition of mindfulness into practice.
We then began to further explore the first part of mindfulness—how our bodies and minds work together. Our bodies help us, even when we don’t ask for help; for example, they hold our stress and tension. Ever finish the day with your shoulders by your ears or feel butterflies in your stomach before a big event? Our bodies are holding our emotions for us. When we learn to recognize what our bodies are doing and why, we can get more comfortable to feeling uncomfortable (the key to growth!) and develop a clearer gauge for what we need to support ourselves.
We learned how mindfulness is about using our body to support how we want to feel. For example, it’s not usually effective to tell our brains to calm down by just saying, “calm down brain.” However, it can be very effective to bypass the mind and work with the body. We can use exercises that guide the breath and cue the nervous system and endocrine systems to create calm.
Want to help your child feel calm? Here are three exercises to try that we have done together at school:
For Calm: Finger Breathing
For Calm: Stretch Breath
For Focus: Distractor Game