How can we help children become more self-aware, more confident, more attentive and focused, less distractible and more “present” in the classroom?
The concept of mindfulness and the skills it helps develop are topics we have been exploring this academic year at SIS. Our focus on these concepts was kicked off before the academic year began, with our teachers participating in a mindfulness presentation during an in-service day. We have also spent this past month’s Professional Learning Community meetings digging deeper into this topic; with several teachers going as far as video recording a mindfulness exercises they performed with their students and then sharing those videos with the group. However, we began looking deeper into this topic by reading and discussing several current articles. I have included links to those articles below, as they do a much better job of explaining this concept than I can.
For the rest of this blog post, I would like to share with you one of the reasons I believe mindfulness, or the practice of being more present, is an essential 21st Century skill. Our students are growing up in an information rich world. Some could argue it is a world of information overload. Many of our students carry devices enabling them constant connectivity to a wealth of information and/or distraction. This is not something negative in and of itself. However in this world, how do we teach our students to be independent thinkers, to challenge themselves to take the time to solve a problem without relying on Google? How do we give them the skills to be able to “turn off” the constant stream of input, and master the ability to focus their attention on their own consciousness? The concept of mindfulness is nothing new, but I think the ability to clear one’s mind and pay attention to the present will be an extremely valuable skill for our students to possess.
And just to clarify any misunderstandings, I do not see students sitting in the lotus position while meditating for an hour as the only type of exercise to develop mindfulness. There are a wide variety of activities which develop mindfulness skills, as explained in the articles below, and many of them can be used at home as well as at school. So, I welcome you to read the articles and hope you are inspired to take a moment to reflect about your own ideas and ability to be more present in your own lives.
And a TED Talk