I have been teaching kids yoga for 4 years now.
I really love it, but recently I feel that the focus is taken away from yoga into more trendy mindfulness classes in the classroom. I have therefore been contemplating in training to deliver these sessions and asking if additional training would add to my existing really comprehensive and specialised kids yoga training.
I have been researching on the subject and decided not to take on any additional mindfulness training, neither to name any of the so called “mindfulness” practices in my trainings that.
When I asked school teachers about Mindfulness in the classroom here is what I discovered.
9 truths about mindfulness in schools
1. Good Trainings Cost too much:
Some highly priced offerings (eg. Calm kids) CAN provide a very comprehensive and extensive range of tools that can truly assist children calm down, cope with emotions and self regulate.
These can be used as stand-alone practices or as full length mindfulness classes. Many though agree that the price tag is too high, especially when not pursued as an additional income source.
2. Mixed Effectiveness:
The North Lanarkshire Probationer Teachers conducted their practitioner enquiries on guided meditation. The results of this study were generally positive but study acknowledged the need for regular “mindfulness’ practices and willingness for the students to practice these. https://www.nlprobationers.co.uk/…/health…/date/2020/
It also highlighted that practices need to be targeted to work; targeted to age and willingness to try, or the results of the practices are negative.
3. Just a Buzzword:
Some believe that mindfulness is just a new buzzword that has been growing in recent years for practices that teachers and kids are already doing but are not called mindfulness.
“If it works don’t try and fix it”: Many things done in the past by teachers were not acknowledged for their usefulness and have disappeared from the schools’ curriculum. Newly trained teachers are also not using those because they are seen as ‘old-fashioned’, but actually they are rooted in sound knowledge of pedagogy that works.
Mindfulness trainings are just acting to fill those gaps, often using those “old fashioned techniques”.
4. You must know what you are doing before diving deeper into practice with the children.
Trauma responses may be triggered during these practices and practitioners must have the tools to deal with this.
Many are concerned about the mindfulness movement leading teachers to be responsible for teaching to prevent mental health issues, which is such a complex area and ‘one size doesn’t fit all’.
5. Conflicting Faith
Although neither yoga or mindfulness are meant to be religious aspects of religion (Buddhism) can be “interlaced” into the programs. People of differing faiths may not allow their child to join some of the things happening like yoga and relaxation because of the conflict with faith.
6. Keep it simple:
Short & creative techniques such as art, relaxation, body awareness, breathing techniques and stories for imagination make mindfulness accessible to children and promote discussion after so as to create a space to recognise the things the session has brought.
7. For mindfulness to work for others, you need to practise it yourself:
Once you can see the positive impact on you as a person you can then consider sharing that with pupils.
Often the presumption made for practitioners going into the trainings are that they practice themselves, which quite often is not the case and many fundamentals of the practice are not covered or oversimplified, making trainings and delivery of the sessions after useless or at the worse dangerous.
8. Is a mainstream classroom is the appropriate vector?
Funds and grants given to schools to introduce mindfulness and yoga in the classroom are all great, but should the decision to ‘teach’ mindfulness (dependant on definition) be made at class teacher level or should it be made at government level (as in the curriculum specifically and defined) , or should it be fully parental choice?
Without a clear definition commercial mindfulness courses are creating more problems than offering solutions to the teachers that will take these techniques into the classroom.
9. School Teachers cannot do everything:
The role of the class teacher should be less as a fixer of everything and more as a advocate for things like mindfulness and yoga. Although regular daily practice is great specialists should be brought in to deliver these sessions. The target should be to have a highly trained person come to the school to deliver these instead and there are many benefits in doing so.
Many times parents come to teachers for support with their children but because their issues are not ‘severe enough’ they cannot access further services, at the same time mindfulness is not the answer.
Mindfulness is so extensive and specialised, training is required to gain a better understanding into the subject. It is not just an add on, especially as it is often seen to be the solution many parents see with their kids behaviour.
Harsh reality is that there is something wrong in society today that so many children think they need such support, that was perhaps was once given through religion and actively being part of close knit communities, or quality family time and true (face to face) connection with each other.
Kids can indeed benefit from yoga and mindfulness, but we need to start slow and interlace fun in what we do with the kids.
Fun is like the glue that holds things together, it is only through play that kids learn fearlessly, safely and effectively.