So, it was bound to happen! We are finally back at school and I can’t speak for everyone, but I truly missed all of my students. But what will it be like? School post COVID-19? Everyone is going around saying this is the new normal and we just have to adapt. Not much else we can do about it all. Adapt and survive! That’s what we teach our students right? Humans have been evolving for centuries, and we now have to ‘evolve’ once more to survive this pandemic. Daycares and schools all over the country are taking measures to ensure that the students and staff are all safe. How realistic are those measures? That remains to be seen. More importantly what can you do as a teacher to survive school post-COVID-19?
The very first thing I did was a good 30 minutes session of mindfulness with my students. We took our journals which we had been using since term 1 and started to reflect on the weeks we were away. I asked them questions like ‘what did you do at home to help you cope?’ and ‘what did you do that will help you with your studies?’ This got them to reflect on how they made use of their time. I noticed a lot of furrowed eyebrows and wrinkled foreheads as they figured it all out. A lot of laughter as well when I mentioned TikTok and PS4.
After our reflection – I say our because I did it too! We wrote our usual 3 things we are grateful for and we filled up the gratitude jar. This is a practice we had been doing since the start of the school year, gratitude is not new to them. We also stated our goals for the week – what do you want to achieve this week? Did you forget to do the work posted online? I always talk to them about setting realistic goals and not to go overboard with it. Take it slowly so that you achieve all your goals before setting that really big one!
I then introduced something new to them this week though – Affirmations! During the ‘holidays’ I myself did a lot of personal background research, I did some soul searching. I found that we attract the same energy we give off and I wanted to share that with my students. So I began by discussing negative energy and positive energy. What makes us feel good and what doesn’t? I noticed a lot of nods as they began to understand what I was talking about. We may sometimes wake up in a bad mood and come to school to see our cheery friends who are immediately put off by our sour mood which only makes us feel even worse. Or versa.
In this current situation it is important that we keep our students positive! We must not show any worries or fears that we adults may have. That is not their problem. By doing these few activities on the first day I was able get my students to feel more at ease and more comfortable to be back at school. They were focusing on themselves rather than other things which might trigger anxiety or even lead to depression. There were reflecting on their days at home, setting new goals for the week and repeating positive affirmations so that they themselves become more positive about their situations.
Taking a few minutes every morning just to calm those busy minds is wonderful thing. Children have so much going on at the moment. They are trying to keep up with the lessons given, the latest trend on TikTok, who said what and who did what yesterday! They need to learn how to quieten the mind so that they can be a lot more focused. I haven’t started this yet, but I do plan on introducing a few minutes in the morning where the students can just sit still and breathe before they start the school day. Getting them to practice this every day will hopefully help them to be a lot more focused in class, more attentive and also more relaxed.
Catherine Wilde, Kids Yoga & Meditation Teacher states, “Similar to adults, children are inundated with information on a daily basis. Learning meditation from an early age can be extremely beneficial for kids.” Tiana Woolridge, MPH, MD ‘20, Wellness Consultant, pointed out that ‘One in five children experience mental health issues.” Woolridge says, “If we can provide a blanket of support and teach students how to maintain balance and find peace, then there is no limit to what our students can achieve.” So is this not a wonderful and quiet way to help our students?
Dr. Bryan Bruno, Founder and Medical Director at Mid City TMS, adds that “Meditation is one of the healthiest activities that a parent can do with their child. Meditation affects different parts of the brain, including the parietal lobe. Activity in the parietal lobe slows down during meditation, and children are able to process information more clearly.” During the day, a child sits through various different subjects and they are struggling to understand all these different concepts. Some are clearly better at it than others, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if all your students were able to have this calm and relaxed mind so they can clearly think and process everything they are learning?
The benefites of meditation for children included, but are not limited to:
- Learn core emotional regulation skills
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Gives the child an opportunity to unplug
- Change the brain
- Learn how to breathe properly
- Creates classroom peace and calm
- Builds emotional and psychological resilience
- Increases focus
- Improves sleep
- Boost physical and emotional health
- Improves academic performance
If you would like to learn more about the benefits mentioned above click here! Whether you are a teacher or a parent, meditation will clearly help your students/children. A few minutes every day will save them a world of trouble as they grow up and start facing a lot of those ‘adult problems’. Before I end, please remember to also take care your own mind! As a parent or teacher or both! It is important that we set the example, be more positive about life! There are so many wonderful things out there to be positive about! This is what my very first post was about!
Happy teaching and happy meditating!