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Compassion Skills

How to Teach… Mindfulness

by Emily Drabble

Meditating at school, where mindfulness has become something of a buzzword. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

All teachers want their students to be calm, focused, alert, aware and creative, which is essentially what mindfulness is all about, so it's no wonder the term has become a bit of a buzzword, even in mainstream education.

The Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help introduce mindfulness to young people at school (and at home) and to help them develop some essential life skills.

The most delicious way to start has to be Mindfulness and the art of chocolate eating. Taking just three minutes, this is a practical and instantly likeable introduction to bringing mindfulness to the classroom. If you must, swap chocolate for strawberries or ripe slices of mango.

This is just one of a fantastic set of resources from Mind Space on Guardian Teacher Network – and all are without an aura, guru or chakra in sight. The non-denominational and non-religious presentation of meditation and mindfulness has been specifically developed to be useable by all types of schools, beyond the RE classroom.

Try this mindfulness relaxation exercise script, which has been designed to guide students to a heightened level of mindfulness while relaxing the body and mind in just 15 minutes. Find also the audio recording of this meditation.

If you've got less time to spare, find five minutes to a calmer classroom, which has some fantastic tips and is one of the most popular resources on the Guardian Teacher Network.

Primary school-aged children can be introduced to meditation with this metaphorical educational story. Encourage younger students to close their eyes, relax gently and imagine they are one of the children in the story.

The exam season is pretty much over, but this one is a keeper: Tips for dealing with exam stress has been designed to help students reduce stress through practising mindfulness and meditation around exam time.

Teachers can find out more about Mind Space's meditation in schools project and seminars, and if you would like a speaker to come to your school to introduce mindfulness and the practice and technique of meditation to staff and students, get in touch.

RE teacher Andrew Jones, who recently blogged for the Guardian Teacher Network about his experiences with meditation at Goffs school, has created this useful slideshow on meditation for beginners – the slides list what to do and give basic directions. The lesson was created for a scheme of work on Buddhism, but it can act as a standalone lesson, too. Andrew has highly recommended the audio and CD resources created by Clear Vision, a UK Buddhist charity specialising in Buddhism and meditation in schools. Thanks to Clear Vision for sharing some of its stilling exercises for young people on the Guardian Teacher Network, meditation one and meditation two.

Meditation teacher Jon Shore has been teaching mindfulness since 1978 and has shared a soothing 15-minute audio file of soft meditation music and ocean waves – ideal for using as background music during a mindfulness meditation in class and Personal transformation using mindfulness and meditation, which includes meditations that can be used in a classroom setting.

Thanks to 100 hours for sharing this fascinating exploration of the wider context of mindfulness. Mindfulness and the vision for a 21st-century transformational curriculum introduces 100 hours' vision of how young people around the world can be supported to become wise and compassionate leaders and, ultimately, to transform society. The resource describes what mindfulness is and its benefits, and includes a two-minute guided exercise, top principles and tips. Teachers are invited to get in touch and find out more about how they can get involved.

We have some really creative resources shared by Ross Young at The Dharma primary school, the UK's only primary school to offer an education based on Buddhist values, which puts mindfulness at the centre of its practice so has lots of expertise to share. Find The Duct-Tape maze – a mindfulness activity that helps children learn how to manage distractions, to notice and persevere as well as to plan and reason. StickArt is another great calming idea. Students sit in a circle and take it in turns to place pipe-cleaners onto the floor in a particular shape without talking. A pattern or a picture is created and the focus is on developing mindful mind skills.

This pebble guided meditation is perfect for young children and inplanting wishes children place wishes they would like to see grow in the world and work hard to help make their wishes grow.

The children at The Dharma school have created this poster of mindfulness skills because, in the words of a group of students: "Some of them are annoyingly long, tricky words!" The Kung Fu Panda Peach tree clip has been recommended to help children understand the concept of being present. Also find mind in a jar, a mindfulness activity in which children make and use a snow globe to show how their minds are working – and then give it a good shake!

And finally, for those who would like to podcast about their mindfulness experiences, but aren't quite sure where to start, How to podcast with your class is a really easy guide including software suggestions.

Join the Guardian Teacher Network community for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own as well as read and comment on blogs. There are also thousands of teaching, leadership and support jobs on the site.

See additional sources at: How to Teach… Mindfulness



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