Top Five Tools for Teaching Mindfulness to Kids
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I frequently get questions from parents, teachers, and other therapists wanting to know how they can get started teaching mindfulness to kids. That is a GREAT question because I think mindfulness is an excellent tool for helping children (and adults) navigate an increasingly busy world. The great news is that there are some really awesome resources available to make teaching these skills fun and easy.
Now, my top recommendation is going to be to do an in person training but I've included plenty of lower-cost, quick and easy suggestions as well. I hope you'll give at least one of them a try and let me know how it goes!
1. Attend a Training
I got started with some in person trainings, and to be totally honest, I wasn't even after the mindfulness component at the time! As a physical therapist I wanted some different ways to get kids moving their bodies using yoga. But, learning mindfulness through fun games at Yogapeutics in Austin, TX and with Childlight Yoga, was life changing for me. I would highly recommend courses with either of these two training programs. I've also heard great things about Radiant Child Yoga, Mindful Schools, and Little Flower Yoga.
2. Big Life Journal
Alright, time for a confession. When Big Life Journal released their first product they had their entire book available to preview on their website. My first thought was "Awesome! I don't need to buy it! I will just copy the stuff I like!" But then I started going through the preview and I loved EVERYTHING. I bought the book without any further hesitation and it has provided so many valuable lessons for me to use with my students.
They now have a number of books available and I have no doubt you will love them as much as I do. There is the original Big Life Journal, a second edition, one about growth mindset, and one specifically for teens. You can even purchase ready to use LESSON PLANS! Plus, they send some great free resources every week if you get on their mailing list. Soooo good...
3. Mindful Games
Susan Kaiser Greenland is the BOMB when it comes to mindful activities for kids. She is an amazing resource with her Mindful Games book, website, and she even has a certificate course in Activity-Based Mindfulness being offered through PESI (any of my therapist friend in need of some continuing education credits?).
The very first session of classes I offered at the Play to Grow studio were designed using the MindUP curriculum. Their program is designed for the classroom with simple activities that help build a mindfulness practice that can be used with children of varying ages. There is one for pre-K to second grade, one for third through fifth grades, and one for middle schoolers.
5. Sounds True
The tip I received over and over again while building Play to Grow and pursuing my yoga and mindfulness training was "You have to practice it yourself." You simply cannot effectively teach children mindfulness if you are scattered and unfocused yourself. You must, MUST take time to develop your own practice.
You can do that by finding yoga and/or meditation classes in your area, finding a podcast that resonates with you like Tara Brach or Jack Kornfield, or simply looking up meditations or guided visualizations on youtube. If you want to dive a little deeper into your own mindfulness practice, there are lots of great books and online courses available at Sounds True. They are a mecca of resources from leading experts in the field.
I would love to know if you use any of the tools mentioned above and how they work for you. Feel free to comment below!