Mindfulness Activities that Can Help Improve Your Classroom’s Focus after ECA CoursesOctober 26, 2018
Early childcare assistants work closely with teachers to help create a safe and nurturing environment in the classroom, ensuring that students have the social, emotional, and intellectual skills they need to achieve their potential.
One of the most important of these skills is the ability to focus. Being able to block out distractions and give all of your attention to the task at hand can be challenging, particularly for young children. Fortunately, mindfulness activities can be an effective tool for teaching students how to do just that.
Mindfulness can be loosely defined as a mental state in which one is fully attentive to what’s happening in the moment, without being distracted by memories, anxieties, and other intrusive thoughts that take us away from the present experience. In addition to improving focus, mindfulness training has also been shown to boost memory, lower stress, and help with emotional regulation, so it’s a great addition to any class routine, and can be adjusted to any class size or situation.
Breath Awareness and Guided Meditation
Meditation is one of the most well-known and commonly practiced forms of mindfulness training. It’s been used for thousands of years and takes a variety of forms, but most often involves sitting in a relaxed position with the eyes closed, focusing attention on one’s breathing (or some other thought, object, or activity).
Professionals with a diploma from an early childcare assistant college know that guided meditation can be a great introduction to the practice for students. It can also be adjusted to suit any range of ages and requires little to no resources.
Ask students to sit cross-legged with their eyes closed. Begin by drawing their attention to their breath: the way their bellies expand and shrink as they slowly breathe in and out. From there, you might ask them to imagine a calming environment, such as a beach or a forest, describing it in detail to them. End the activity by returning students’ attention to their breathing.
Guided meditation is a great way to introduce students to the practice of mindfulness
Another way of using an external focus to help students practice mindfulness is with the use of simple props.
Pinwheel breathing is one example of this. Provide each student with a pinwheel (or have them make their own). Instruct them to hold the pinwheel in front of their mouth, and talk them through a breathing exercise like the one described above, making the pinwheel spin as they breathe out.
Pinwheel breathing can be a good exercise to get students to focus on their breath
After Your ECA Courses, Use Nature Walks to Improve Students’ Focus
Nature walks can be a great addition to the other techniques and exercises you’ve learned in your ECA courses. Take students into a nearby forest or other natural area, and instruct them to walk slowly and silently, focusing on their senses: what do they hear, smell, see, and feel? The key to this exercise is allowing students to move at their own pace, and to stop regularly to touch, smell, and pick up objects. Encouraging students to be attentive to their senses is a great way to improve their focus when they’ve returned to the classroom.
Whatever exercises suit your particular classroom situation, try incorporating them regularly to improve focus, while providing students with a valuable skill that will serve them well throughout their development.
Are you interested in a rewarding career working with children?
Contact Medix College for more information about our early childcare assistant training.