What Is Mindfulness and Why Is It Important for my Preschooler or Preschool Classroom?
What is Mindfulness?
Though the word is used frequently, it’s rarely defined. And there are a number of misconceptions too about what it may entail. Very simply stated, mindfulness is noticing your body functions (breathing, heart beating) and emotions, becoming focused on the moment at hand, and thinking about your thinking. It also involves letting go of any judgments about your thoughts and feelings and accepting what is. This noticing has an incomparable calming effect. There are numerous ways to become more aware and focused through simple practices.
Mindfulness is not affiliated with any religion or belief system (though many use mindfulness practices). Mindfulness can be done by anyone, anywhere and is simply a way of connecting to our life and appreciating it. Research confirms that simple mindfulness practices can lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, promote focused attention, and a sense of well-being among other benefits (Grossman et al., 2004).
Preschool is a time of great change, investigation, and discovery for young children. Because there are significant transitions occurring including spending more time outside of the home, being cared for by teachers for part of the day/week and not by home caregivers/parents, adjusting to school rules and routines, and interacting with peers more frequently, it can be a highly emotional time. In addition, young children do not yet have a developed emotional vocabulary nor do they associate their physical symptoms and reflexes with the big feelings they are experiencing. Mindfulness and social and emotional skill building in the preschool years can play a significant role in preparing young children to focus their attention, to get along with their peers, and to deal with their big feelings.
Because young children are going through such a significant time of change and transition and all the feels that go along with it, parents and educators are equally challenged as they attempt to guide them through successfully. Mindfulness and competence in social and emotional skills for parents and educators can offer patience, empathy, understanding, and competence to help them navigate these challenges and transform them into teachable moments.
Join Early Childhood Development Expert, Shannon Wanless and I for a conversation with Helen Maffini, a doctoral educator whose preschool program on mindfulness is used through Asia. We’ll join 25 other experts to discuss important topics such as, How to Teach Preschoolers Kindness and Compassion, Integrating Social and Emotional Learning Into the Preschool Curriculum, and How Parents Can Use Mindfulness and Social and Emotional Learning Strategies at Home and School.
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Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits; A Meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 57, 35–43.