During a typical school year, after recess, many teachers ring a bell, shut off the lights and encourage students to put their heads down and take deep breaths. This mindfulness technique, empowers educators to cultivate peaceful and engaged school communities.
Calm down time is proven to help children positively regulate emotions, cope with any big feelings they may have and take some “me” time. It can also help kids better manage stress and anxiety. Though school looks a little different this year, we’ve rounded up some ways to bring mindfulness into your home, so kids are ready to learn.
Make a calming jar.
Use a mason jar or plastic water bottle, and fill it with colorful glitter glue. When you shake them up, like a snow globe, kids become mesmerized as glitter fills the water. Pinterest has plenty of great ideas.
Write in a journal.
Grab a standard notebook, and let your child decorate it with designs, markers, stickers – whatever fits their personality. Designate it as their journal in which they can retreat to when they need time to themselves.
Read a mindfulness book.
When your child is having a moment, there are a number of books that will help them reset. Our favorites — “B is For Breathe,” “Breathe Like A Bear” and “A Handful Of Quiet” – all include short, breathing practices and movements that can be performed anytime, anywhere.
Do virtual yoga.
Host Jamie Amor creates interactive adventures for kids by mixing yoga poses them with their favorites stories like Frozen and Stars Wars. The Cosmic Kids YouTube channel is filled with so many family exercises that you can easily fit the videos in your daily routine.
Take balloon breaths.
Balloon breathing is a simple breathing exercise that you can do anywhere. Slow, deep breaths are one of the best ways to calm an anxious child. The Go Noodle YouTube channel does a great job breaking down the steps for kids.
Play with fidget toys.
Fidget toys are self-regulation tools that help with focus, attention, calming and active listening. They range from fidget spinners and Rubik’s cubes to squishy balls and bendy keychains, and can be purchased in bundles on Amazon.
Listen to a meditation app.
Finally, a healthy use of technology! There are a number of mindfulness apps for children that provide fun, engaging activities that teach them the basics of mindfulness like breathing exercises, visualizations and focus-based meditation. Our favorites are Headspace (for kids), Stop, Breathe & Think, and Insight Timer.
Take a nature walk.
Fall is the perfect time to practice this! Get outside before classes start, after the school day or during recess. Encourage your child to walk at their own speed with a sense of curiosity and adventure. Ask them what they see and what sounds they hear.
Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.
This article originally published on Sept. 15, 2020. It also appeared in Chicago Parent’s January/February 2021 issue.