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Tuesday
Jan052016

on mindfulness {for children}

i'm big on noticing. SO big that each week, at willow chicago, we include noticing stations so that children can practice seeing each other. because WE all need practice seeing each other, right? 

in our multicultural context, our top value is that children would notice, respect, and care for each other. we want to create a safe space for children to practice and experience love for the other. 

recently, i came across a fascinating project for chicago public school students -- a team at erikson institute is directing a project aimed at exploring the idea that mindfulness strategies can help kids manage the toxic stress often associated with socioeconomic disadvantage. 

ultimately, the motivation for practice is gradually taught to be an 'other focus,' not a self-focus. when it's taught in a way that's authentic, the practice of mindfulness is a radical act of generosity for those around us. when a child has a calm mind and more of an open heart, it's going to totally influence his interactions with others. --richard j. davidson (erikson, 2015)

the project focuses on mindfulness activites such as: guided breathing, stretching, social mindfuless (peer interaction). teachers encourage students to participate 3 times throughout their school day: after arrival and prior to content, after lunch or recess, and prior to test or challenging activity.

of course, all of this has got my mind swirling about how i might introduce a few mindful activities into our kidmin environments. encouraging children to be present, notice others, and develop a mindful perspective towards others is exactly what we hope + dream for our kids at willow chicago.

a few ideas: 

entrance prayer: as children enter their classrooms, they take a deep breath and say a short prayer, "God, help me notice and care for others." 

large group prayer: as large group begins in our grades 1-3 class, we typically do a simple body prayer. this gives kids a chance to focus their bodies and prepare to hear from God. last week, as we began a lesson on jesus + his disciples, we stood to say a friendship prayer. (children put their hands on each others' shoulders and asked God to show them and their friends his story.)

small group breathing: as children sit and prepare for small group discussion, the teacher leads them to take several deep breaths in order to prepare for the activity. 

activity station art: encourage children to draw art that reflects a peaceful place for them, or a friend they've noticed needs peace, or even a way they might help someone experience God's peace.

being mindful towards developing mindfulness. LOVE. 

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