Mindfulness activities have many benefits for children. In the school environment they are successful in helping to bring a day that is running off the tracks with behaviour and emotional issues back in line. Over time, they can also help lengthen children’s concentration and focus. But from my own personal experience, it can also help relieve that little bit of guilt we sometimes carry around those children who we know need some extra special attention.
Mindfulness activities, when practised regularly, can transform how your children feel whilst they’re at school. Mindfulness itself means to be conscious or aware of the present moment. So, we can practise mindfulness anywhere we want to.
By taking these activities outdoors, the environment provides a range of sensory stimulation, such as the breeze, the sounds around them and the temperature changes. This sensory stimulation produces something for the children to focus on. It supports them in succeeding with mindfulness, rather than trying to achieve absolute stillness of the mind, which is difficult for even adults to do!
How to introduce your class to mindfulness outdoors
- There’s a reason mindfulness is referred to as a ‘practice’, because whether you’re an adult or a child, it takes just that. When you first introduce mindfulness to your class, don’t expect too much! A successful 30 seconds is a great start, rather than insisting they be focused for 10 minutes straight away!
- As you repeat the activities, slowly extend the length of time you carry them out for. You’ll be surprised how quickly even the wriggliest child settles into it. Don’t worry if some children insist on moving around. Some children’s brains crave constant movement so staying perfectly still is uncomfortable for them.
- Ensure everyone has their own space and the children know to respect each other’s space and mindfulness time. They can move but they cannot distract or interrupt anyone else. Always be guided by the child with the shortest concentration span. When you can see they are no longer able to maintain any focus, gently stop the activity to avoid disrupting the sense of calm your class has achieved.
With practise, all of your class will learn to become calm and focused.
After completing some of these activities with a previous class, I remember one child in particular saying to me, ‘my mind feels so fresh, it feels like I’ve forgotten everything.’ With time and practise you can bring this experience to your children too.
For practical outdoor mindfulness activities, download our 7 outdoor mindfulness activities for KS1 & KS2 children.
With many thanks to Hollie Hindle for writing this blog.
Hollie is Co-Founder of Alfresco Learning – an outdoor learning company dedicated to combining the National Curriculum with nature to create an inclusive learning approach and provide memorable learning experiences for all children. Through staff training & an online planning hub, they aim to help primary teachers unlock their own potential in taking their everyday lessons outdoors.