Homeschool mindfulness, for me, is the ability to allow learning to happen in the moment. It’s about letting go of control and trusting that your children will learn. It’s less about your plan and more about your children’s interests and natural curiosity and diving down rabbit holes.
Caitlin Curley,My Little Poppies
My mindfulness classroom
In a mindful homeschooling environment, kids can learn their new ABCs: attention, balance, and compassion.
Attention: Increased awareness of thoughts, behaviours, senses, and emotions and increased ability to focus on tasks
Balance: Experiencing events and emotions without reactivity
Compassion: Practicing self-care and acting with kindness to self and others
Basic mindfulness programs for homeschool kids include specific activities that bring us into the present moment: breathing exercises, awareness of emotion without judgment (naming emotions), awareness of sound (bell sound meditation), loving-kindness meditation, and body scan.
Starting each day with at least one mindfulness skill helps both kids and parents to start off the day with an awareness of the present. Including at least one breathing activity everyday will help to make breath awareness “second nature” to our kids. Using the breath as an anchor is a life skill that will always serve them well.
Learning and practicing mindfulness skills has been shown to change the way the brain functions, calming the fight, flight, and freeze response and increasing the executive functions in the pre-frontal cortex. Incorporating mindfulness skills into the homeschooler’s day allows them to focus on the task at hand, and helps with calming distractions. Mindfulness games and exercises decrease resistance, anxiety, and frustration, and allows them to connect with their passions and interests. You’ll see them blossom!
With that in mind, here are some tips for the mindful home classroom that I hope will make the new school year successful.
1) Mindful planning
Preparing for the days and months ahead, we want to research and organize our materials, make printables so they are ready when needed, order the best resources and guides, set up bulletin boards and each child’s learning space, and of course -- educate ourselves on the latest homeschooling trends and success stories.
But we need to be careful that all this planning doesn’t get in the way of mindful time spent with our kids, modelling the passion for reading, learning and creating that we want them to pick up on. It’s so important for our kids to see us wrapped up in a great book, playing exciting games, or turning baking cookies into science experiments or math challenges!
2) Deciding what is urgent and what is important
How do we decide what is most important for a mindful homeschool? We can be aware of the times that urgent seeming events have taken over what we have decided is important, like incorporating music and art into the curriculum.
Playing musical instruments, sketching, or painting can get forgotten amid the rush to conquer reading, writing, math, history, and science and still get dinner on the table by 6 o’clock! In reality, we are free to create our own learning schedules. All it takes to incorporate the important creative and cultural learning is awareness of our priorities at any given moment.
When we race from task to task, are we taking time to stop and savour the moment through the things that are most important to ourselves and our kids?
3) Awareness of rushing ahead
While it’s natural for any teacher to look for progress, we should be mindful, especially as parents, that we are not rushing ahead and leaving the child behind.
What does this mean for the mindful classroom? The fix for this is to stop longing for the future and be thankful for right now. We need to sit down, breathe, and enjoy our children. I say “no” to that nagging voice in my mind that wants to check off items on a list and plan the next field trip, while taking the time to explore what interests my kids – and taking their lead on what to learn next.
When we make eye contact, laugh, and savour our children for who they are in this moment, we achieve and model some of the most important homeschool goals (the new ABCs) – attention, balance, compassion, and we foster self-awareness and self-care.
Learn about mindful homeschooling in Vancouver
Visit Mindful Changes to learn about mindfulness programs, upcoming classes and workshops.
If you’d like 1-on-1 mindfulness training, or would like to learn how to teach mindfulness to your home learners contact Shahin.