I understand the fear, anxiety, and how heartbreaking it can be to watch your child struggle in school. I know what it’s like to want to wave a wand to make it all go away for them and help them learn without it being such a battle. Having 2 kids of my own with learning disabilities (who are now grown), I remember being in the trenches of trying to help them feel good about school – and help myself deal with the stress and the anxiety of the situations that unfolded throughout their school years.
As a teacher who specialized in learning disabilities for over 20 years, I learned to implement an integrated, multi-sensory approach in my classrooms that I still use today with my online tutoring programs.
Without a doubt, the one tactic that I have found to be the most useful and successful in helping kids achieve more success in school and in their lives is the concept of mindfulness. By teaching my students how to practice mindfulness, they learn how to decrease their anxiety and become happier. Mindfulness is a tool that gives kids a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment and helps them process difficult emotions.
As a parent, one of the best ways you can help your child find more success in school is to start practicing mindfulness at home.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be simply explained as…noticing what is happening right now. Mindfulness is taking notice of how your body feels and what you see, smell & taste. Maybe you even feel emotions in your body, perhaps through a tightness somewhere, or a good sensation.
Mindfulness is also noticing what your mind is doing and not judging it.
What happens when kids start being mindful?
When kids notice what is happening around them, they focus more deeply, and that attention to their own senses help them improve in many areas of their life.
Mindfulness helps kids calm down when they’re sad, angry, or frustrated. Mindfulness also helps them deal with tough emotions and improves their over-all level of happiness. It can also help make learning easier by improving focus so school doesn’t seem so hard and boring.
If kids become more aware of what makes them sad, upset, frustrated or afraid, then they can use mindfulness tools to help them take control of their emotions. This is particularly helpful when schoolwork becomes difficult or frustrating.
The science behind mindfulness in children.
The article Mindfulness for Children, published by The New York Times explains that prefrontal circuit connections in our brains develop fastest in children. Mindfulness skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self-regulation, judgment & patience during childhood. Another Times article reviewed several studies to back up the positive impact of mindfulness from a science-based perspective. It revealed: “A 2015 study found that fourth- and fifth-grade students who participated in a four-month meditation program showed improvements in executive functions like cognitive control, working memory, cognitive flexibility — and better math grades. A study published recently in the journal Mindfulness found similar improvements in mathematics in fifth graders with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And a study of elementary school children in Korea showed that eight weeks of meditation lowered aggression, social anxiety & stress levels.”
With continued mounting evidence on the benefits of mindfulness for children, it’s easy to see why it should play a part in every kid’s daily routine. Think of mindfulness practice in the same way you think of brushing teeth or reading and you will find it’s not that difficult to integrate it into& your and your child’s life.
How to start practicing mindfulness with your child.
1. Start with yourself.