How The Use of Mindfulness Can Benefit the Classroom

 

What is Mindfulness – and WHY does it matter?

Mindfulness encapsulates an overall state of being. Generally, it is the human capacity to be conscientious of our existence, more specifically the emotional and mental sensations we experience. This cultivates a varying amount of different skills; for instance, someone who practices mindfulness is present in the moment, intensely sensing their feelings, being reflective, and many more intuitive behaviors. 

This is a specific kind of meditation many people practice. However, mindfulness in itself is a quality whereas meditation is an action. You can acquire mindfulness THROUGH meditation; all in all, the two can exist independently or together. 

Having a moment-by-moment awareness with a more nurturing approach is incrementally beneficial. Rather than focusing on the future or past to gain a sense of control over your reality, practicing mindfulness relieves you of stress that your focus is entirely invested in the PRESENT. Reducing that anticipatory rumination will alleviate feelings of frustration, stress, anger, and even helplessness. Mindfulness is also especially helpful to increase metacognitive awareness, or the awareness for how you think. 

Why does mindfulness matter in the first place? Because it’s an avenue one can take to overall improve their mental and/or emotional health. Mindfulness bleeds into all sorts of life experiences, like interpersonal relationships. Aside from the external benefits, mindfulness can overall better one’s relationship or perception of themselves.

There have been studies and discussions about the physical benefits of mindfulness as well, but the primary influence is within the conscious self. 

 

How does Mindfulness help with Math? 

By learning to healthily address your mental or emotional frustrations, you’re establishing a safe space to grow your perspective. Actively practicing mindfulness helps you to create a growth mindset, which can be helpful in times of challenge.

Due to math’s more dense and logical functionality, it’s one of those disciplines that challenges a majority of people in MANY ways. Mindfulness, especially when fused with math, can strengthen divergent thinking skills, patience, and improve many life skills. 

When being faced with an obstacle, for example a challenging equation, mindfulness can be used to navigate the challenge with a more hopeful approach. If you were to fail or get the math equation wrong, you can still utilize mindfulness by removing yourself from the stressful environment, gaining clarity, then returning with a newfound approach that may attack the problem correctly (maybe even more efficiently). 

Noticing the reactions you experience when partaking in mathematics can guide you to find a new attitude better suited for the task. Identifying those feelings will also pave the way to cultivate a more thoughtful, intentional response! 

Younger children with less emotional regulation may find it difficult to master mindfulness during math on their own. Don’t worry, familiarizing them with the process of mindfulness can be introduced in AND out of the classroom. Implementing mindfulness at an early age can prove to be expediently helpful. 

If you are a teacher or educator looking to provide a supportive environment for optimal learning, there are many ways to incorporate mindfulness! First and foremost, encourage the student(s) to be fully present and focused on what’s currently occurring! To prepare students for an engaging experience, instruct and/or guide them to calm their bodies and minds for the upcoming educational lesson.

Can you fuse mindfulness with math? ABSOLUTELY. There are a few different methods that can be integrated into a young mind’s lifestyle, whether it be during math time at school or when they experience a stressful situation at home.

 

3 Practices That Converge Mindfulness With Math

Count Your Breathing: There are LOTS of specialized kinds of breathing able to sound the physiological sensations of stress or anxiety. There’s deep breathing, belly breathing, box breathing… you get the idea. Regardless of what KIND of breathing is being used, counting is a great way to control respiration! 

Instruct the student or class to get comfortable in their seat(s). Count an inhale for four counts, have them hold it for another four counts, then fully exhale for the final four counts. The purpose of the counting is to bring attention to this typically involuntary action. Becoming more aware of the flow of oxygen in and out of the body will instantaneously calm the nervous system, which means the students will feel more relaxed and present for their lesson.

Nourish The Mind AND Body: Cooking has proven to be a fun yet engaging task that incorporates various math techniques! The human body needs to be nourished with yummy, wholesome food to function at its best, therefore this is an exciting yet immersive way to bring a child back into their body and enjoy caring for themselves. Try including the child in fun cooking exercises that get them excited to feed their bodies (and minds).

Some fun ways to mindfully practice math is to have a child count their pieces of snacks, measure ingredients for their favorite food, time the cooking process of their highly anticipated treat, and so much more!

Time to Shake It Out: Kids feel so pent up and sometimes frustrated when they cannot exert their energy in the classroom, so physical movement may help them out! 

Aside from recess at school, take a few minutes at different times during school to allow children to move and wiggle their bodies. Encourage them to (safely) shake out their frustration, attune to their bodily sensations, and wiggle away any negative feelings. This can be used as a good transition or break between subjects, lessons, and used before or after a long lesson!

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