by Lori Barnum
Parents – if you are reading this perhaps you have a teacher introducing mindful meditation into their classroom and you want to better understand mindful meditation or maybe you are a home schooling parent and you need tools to get your child to refocus and be on task. Awesome! Your child is going to benefit in HUGE ways and I am truly excited for you.
What is ‘mindfulness,’ and why is it important? Mindfulness is an opportunity for self-reflection and has a large range of profound effects. With consistent practice mindfulness can physically change the human brain. MRI scans show after 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness the amygdala, or the ‘flight or fright’ portion of the brain, shrinks. The amygdala is the primal region of the brain that deals with fear and emotion. By practicing mindfulness a person can experience a decrease in stress hormones, less negative emotions and increases a person’s ability to deal with stress. It increases awareness, concentration and decision-making. As the amygdala shrinks the rest of brain begins to make greater connections associated with attention and concentration.
Now, that’s just one part of the brain. Meditating develops the hippocampus (empathy and self-control), pons (sleep), the temporal parietal junction (selflessness) and the Posterior Cingulate (focus). It is exercise for the brain. We teach our children to eat well for a strong mind and body but for the brain we have to more than just limit junk foods and sugar. Meditation is key.
Mindfulness also works on impulse control and its really great to children to recognize when their attention has wandered. Students suffering from focusing issues, anxiety disorder, depression, ADD or ADHD would benefit from learning to be aware of their body, breathing and their thoughts. If these processes go unchecked, it can exacerbate their symptoms. Mindfulness is a practice and over time results can be seen.
In my classroom I share the following:
My favorite article is:
Meditation: The Key to Your Happiness. There is a plethora of articles to the left side of the website and scroll down to the bottom for a ton more. GREAT INFO!
and Meditation for Children: https://mindworks.org/blog/meditation-for-children/
There are a ton of great videos:
An overall understanding of why education is moving toward meditation curriculum. Effects of Meditation in the Classroom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0DMYs4b2Yw
For your older child: How Does Meditation Change the Brain – Egghead #54 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky6ul4NqVAk.
For the younger children – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70j3xyu7OGw is great to introduce mindfulness meditation.
Supporting your child in this will provide them long lasting benefits. I tell my students, “Take these tools with you into life because life will throw you some curves. Pick up these tools and use them and you will develop grit and be happier.”