We’ve all seen the research and know that mindfulness has a whole host of benefits for health and schools. So this raises the question: how can we create a schoolwide culture that values mindfulness? As with any culture shifts, all-staff buy-in and routines are key! Keep reading to find out more about how you can create changes to bring schoolwide mindfulness activities to your students.
Schoolwide Mindfulness Activities
Buy-in from staff is a must! Sometimes teachers may be hesitant to give up instructional time for mindfulness activities – they’re under a lot of pressure here! But when your teachers understand how mindful practices can transform their classrooms in the realms of academics, behavior, and community, they’ll be more likely to embrace it.
Ideas for Staff Training:
- You can lead a staff training on mindfulness to review research and simple ways to incorporate a mindful practice in the classroom.
- Consider an online training from an organization like Mindful Schools.
- You may also be able to find a local counseling organization in your community that is willing to come in for an all-staff in-service on mindful practices.
Set Daily Intentions
Do you have a morning assembly each day? Do you have morning announcements or a morning broadcast? Use this time to help kids set daily intentions! Taking just 2 minutes of this time to guide students to focus their attention on something they want to accomplish during the day can really pay off in terms of academic and behavior goals. Here are some examples of daily intentions:
- Today I will challenge the negative thoughts I have about myself.
- Today I will try again when I make a mistake.
- Today I will treat others with the compassion I would like to receive.
Early on in the year, you can encourage schoolwide intentions. For example, “Today we will all be open to new ideas.” As students become more comfortable with the practice of setting daily intentions, you can simply prompt them with, “What kind of day will you have today?” or “What do you want to achieve today?”
Help teachers identify times of day when mindful routines would be most beneficial. Could it be during morning meeting to set the tone for the day? Could it be after PE or before going to the library? Identify times when it seems like students need a little help finding focus or grounding themselves in the moment and go from there. Here are some specific times when mindful routines might be helpful:
- During morning meeting
- After students are seated during lunch
- At the end of PE class
Once teachers identify a time when their mindful routine would be most beneficial, help them find mindful practices that will work for their students. They can do breathing exercises, body scans, or simple expressions of gratitude. Head into the classroom to teach a variety of mindfulness activities during your counseling time, and then your teachers can carry these over during their own routines.
Find opportunities for collaboration with other professionals in your building! Team up with your art teacher for mindful art activities. Collaborate with your PE teacher for some mindful yoga activities. Show students that there’s room for mindful practices across subjects and in all areas of life!
Set up mindfulness stations throughout your school and classrooms. Calm corners can easily double as mindfulness stations if your teachers already have these in their classrooms. If not, it can be as easy as designating one comfy floor pillow in a certain spot with a basket containing mindful breathing guides, a glitter bottle, or a mindful moment card deck. In classroom guidance, teach your students how to use these materials so that they can utilize the space throughout the day when they need a mindful moment.
Outside of the classroom, you can set up mindfulness stations in the counseling office or even on a bulletin board. Put some breathing guides on your board or an interactive gratitude wheel that students can use while they’re in your office or while they’re waiting in the hallway.
Next Steps for Your Schoolwide Mindfulness Activities:
Want to build schoolwide mindfulness activities into your school culture? Start small by teaching your staff and students about the benefits of mindfulness. Then, introduce simple activities that your teachers can do on their own after your lesson, like guided breathing, mindful nature walks, body scans, gratitude, or affirmations.