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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Teaching Mindfulness in the Early Childhood Classroom

Just like teaching gratitude, mindfulness is an intervention with a wide range of cognitive, psychological, and physical benefits. On a personal level, you will want to practice mindful strategies on your own in order to truly incorporate them into your classroom practice.  Mindfulness is defined as 1. the quality or state of being mindful. 2. the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2024). 

Before taking mindfulness into your classroom community, it is important for you to practice it yourself. There are numerous ways you can practice mindfulness on your own time that are simple to incorporate into your daily life. 

Ways to practice daily mindfulness in your own life:

1. Take a mindful break. This can be as simple as turning away from your computer and thinking about something you are grateful for or taking a short walk around the block.

2. Practice breathing techniques. This means focusing your attention on your breath. You can take deep breaths, lie down, stand up, take short breaths, etc. You can focus on your breathing wherever you are, whenever you choose. 

3. Check in with your emotions. Are you feeling happy, sad, or excited, Lonely? Each emotion is valid. Notice how it feels. 

4. Recite positive affirmations. Look in the mirror and say, "I am worthy." "I am great". "I can do hard things". 

5. Sit in the park or a quiet area where you can think and use your senses to fully grasp your actions and surroundings.  Spending time outside is essential. 

6. Write in a journal. 

7. Draw, color, or doodle. Live in the moment. 

8. Yoga, Pilates/stretching.

Incorporating mindful practices into your classroom community would be the next step in your routine. There are many studies out there today on the topic of mindfulness. They show that mindfulness education and lessons on techniques to calm the mind and body can reduce the adverse effects of stress and increase students' ability to stay engaged, helping them stay on track academically and avoid behavior problems. For these reasons, sharing these strategies with the families in your classroom is also essential. Give them resources to use with their children at home.  

Teaching mindfulness in the classroom helps students:

  1. Develop self-awareness.
  2. Learn coping skills.
  3. Improve self-control.
  4. Increase focus and attention.
  5. Create a sense of calm.
  6. Manage emotions.

There are numerous ways to incorporate mindful practices into your daily schedule and classroom community. 

  • Start Small

For most children, the term mindfulness and the strategies will be new. Determine what works best for you and your students. Start by teaching a breathing technique. 

  • Build consistency and invite your school community to join in. 

Make time for staff and students to learn about mindfulness practices so students know how to talk about mindfulness and understand what it means. Create a space for mindful practices throughout the school community. When people understand what something is, they feel more comfortable doing it. Try a mindfulness corner in your classroom. 

  • Allow students the time to practice mindfulness. 

Make time for students to be aware of their own emotions. Allow them to talk and allow them to share. Give them places and space to practice these strategies. 

  • Lead by example.

Your children need to see you practicing mindfulness, too. For example, pause and take a few deep breaths if you’re feeling frustrated, sad, confused, etc. Show them how you practice mindfulness—model how to use breathing exercises to help.

Practicing mindfulness on a personal basis will help you teach your students and incorporate these strategies into your daily classroom community. Using mindful techniques at home will help your overall health and will show your children that there are different ways to cope. These are all practices we should also be teaching our families. You can even teach these to families through the Family Forums you have in your classroom. 



Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2024). Gratitude