Last week, I started a six week program at Yarmouth Elementary School. After spending last year working with the K-1 school, this year I will be meeting with students grade 2-4. I am delighted to get to see the same group two years in a row. It means we will be able to build on the work we did last year and deepen into some of the practices.
Each week, we spend just fifteen minutes learning a new way of focusing our minds and being kind to ourselves. Teachers are given posters to remind students of the concept we learned and scripts to practice with them. I remind students that the only way they will strengthen their ability to pay attention and be kind is through practice, just like the only way we build strength in our muscles is through working out.
Every program I offer, I start by creating a safe container and defining mindfulness. At this point, there are usually students in the room who know what mindfulness is, so I can build on their understanding. My first lesson is always using our senses as anchors for our attention. I find this is the easiest point of entry for students, and I can offer it later on if students are having trouble with a new anchor point. Sometimes, the breath or body can be uncomfortable, so having sound to come back to means they have a safe space to practice. By building the capacity to focus the mind, students become more adept at ignoring distractions.
Week 1: Supersonic Senses!
This week’s lesson is based on Andrew Jordan Nance’s mindful arts in the classroom book. Andrew has a great rhyming story in his book about super powers, and how our senses can function like super powers if we pay close attention. With the second and third graders, I tweaked this slightly by asking students to carry I beat while I rapped over the story. This was an easy way to keep students engaged (despite my terrible rapping skills). The story gives a chance to practice focusing on each of the senses before moving on to the next. Because I only had fifteen minutes, I focused primarily on the sense of sight and sound. With the fourth graders, we still focused on the same senses without the story.
See if you can find something in your house you’ve never noticed before
Practice your mindful listening as a group. See if you can also practice outside and at home.