We are continuing with the Basic Shapes activity plan from Clever Clovers. The activity we are sharing today is one that I feel is very important and thus aligns closely with my philosophy of education. Please take a look!
Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)
This week’s Theme: Basic Shapes
Activity Description: Mindful Square: Using tape, mark out squares on the floor for each member of the family (who will be present at the time of activity). Ring a bell and sit up straight and quietly in the square. Do this activity daily and try to lengthen the amount of sitting time day by day.
This Activity’s Main Area of Development: Emotional
Specific Skill: Self – awareness
O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 18 months + 1 week
Today was not the first time we did this activity (we started about a week and a half ago). So I will write a little about how I introduced them to the mindful square.
1. I showed them the squares on the floor. We talked about the colour of the tape and tried to trace the squares with our hands and feet. (Place the squares in a quiet, comfy area of your home)
2. I showed them a picture of Padmasambhava (part of our spiritual practice) and explained that he is gentle and kind – you can use any spiritual image that is important to you BUT, please know that you do not need to have any image and you don’t have to associate this activity with religion or spiritual practice for it to be of benefit.
3. I introduced the bell by saying “bell” and ringing it. They loved it! I told them to listen to the sound, I let them have a chance to hold and ring the bell.
4. Next, I explained that when we hear the bell, we will stop what we are doing and come to sit in the square.
5. I rang the bell and modelled sitting in the square quietly and invited them to join me.
6. Then we played a little game where I would give them a task (dance, jump, play) and I would ring the bell indicating that they should stop and come sit in the square quietly.
7. Now that they understand, I ring the bell at random times throughout the day:
- In the morning for our morning prayers & mantra chanting
- When I hear them fighting
- When I see them get overtly frustrated with something or having a tantrum
- When it occurs to me (practicing MY mindfulness)
- This can also be done on the hour or half-hour (or any regular interval of time) – And in a classroom
8. During the subsequent days we have been working on sitting up straight with legs crossed, our hands on our knees, very quietly, and focusing on the image or closing our eyes. (It’s so cute, they can close their eyes on command but only for about 1 second, and they really have to focus to do it). I have extended the sitting time day by day. (The main objective is to get them to sit quietly for a given length of time).
8. Eventually I will take away the squares and add little meditation pillows; this activity will evolve to guided mediation.
See us in action!
What is Mindfulness?
Good question! And let me assure you, that I am no expert on the topic. Much has been written about it but I chose to share this simple definition with you (from an on-line dictionary): “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment”.
How is Mindfulness Beneficial to Learning?
Here is an excerpt from a book entitled “Planting Seeds” by Thich Nhat Hanh: “Mindfulness is an essential educational tool because it develops attention, emotional & cognitive understanding, and bodily awareness & coordination, as well as interpersonal awareness & skills. Also, being mindful diminishes stress, anxiety and hostility; enhancing our total well-being. Often the focus of education systems is on competitive performance, with little emphasis on social and emotional learning. While it is important to teach the key academic skills, it is critical to focus on helping children develop emotional stability and social tolerance. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to help children develop the skills to promote peace in themselves and in the world around them”.
To me, everything is possible from that point forward.
To successfully share mindfulness with children, you must first practice it yourself. Your presence, your calm, and your peace are the biggest gifts you can offer to your children and students.