Mindfulness has long been an important tool for students of all ages to use in order to help them focus while they are learning and to reduce anxiety in the given moment. Mindfulness is particularly critical in this Covid-19 era when students are dealing with many changes, both in the classroom and all around them.
Mindfulness practice helps students centre themselves and allows them to come back to the current moment. It is a natural way to combat the effects of anxiety and stress, and it gives students an opportunity to reflect and focus on the moment.
Even adults have been reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's no surprise that children are showing signs of stress, frustration and anxiety in the wake of the outbreak that is changing the world as we know it. In the span of a few short months, students have had to deal with lockdowns, remote learning, social distancing, adapting to a new normal and an ever-present uncertainty about when life will go back to the way it was pre-COVID.
Fortunately for OWIS students, mindfulness has always been a practice that has been taught and implemented in the classroom. They know how to use this tool to manage their own feelings. As we transitioned to online learning, we maintained mindfulness as a key component in daily activities.
Throughout the e-learning experience, we continued practising mindfulness with students through live video sessions and by providing them with at least two options for mindfulness activities in their weekly e-learning menus. The teachers and administrators at OWIS continue to find new and innovative ways to incorporate mindfulness activities into the lesson plans for students at all levels.
The youngest learners at OWIS have had to adapt to unique circumstances throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It was more challenging to transition to an online learning environment for Early Childhood students because their curriculum is largely play-based. However, the teachers at OWIS did an excellent job offering engaging and interactive activities for Early Childhood students that were both safe and effective.
According to the Child Mind Institute, mindfulness activities can be particularly powerful for children during the ongoing pandemic. OWIS teachers incorporated mindfulness activities in their online learning plans by providing video instructions to students. As an example, they would teach students to practice breathing by telling them to pretend to smell a flower or blow out a birthday candle.
Now, OWIS is able to have students come into school and teachers are using these same mindfulness activities to help students connect with one another while staying focused on the present moment. While wearing a face shield and maintaining a safe social distance, Early Childhood students may spend time pretending to be sea creatures as a way of being more present in the moment.
There are many benefits to mindfulness for students, especially during an unsettling and uncertain moment in time. OWIS school teachers have found that mindfulness activities can be particularly beneficial at specific moments in the school day.
In many cases, students take a mid-day mindfulness break, and they participate in mindfulness activities with their teachers. Mindfulness activities in primary school focus on providing students with an opportunity to reflect and renew their concentration for the rest of the day. When a mindfulness activity is introduced after the lunch break, students are better able to process their current feelings, wind down from playtime and become more prepared for the afternoon lessons.
The teachers at OWIS have discovered that students genuinely enjoy mindfulness activities, and that they come to see it as a useful tool that they can employ on their own to help regulate their thoughts and feelings.
Says Adrian Deller, Grade 5 coordinator at OWIS, “We live in a world where we are constantly on the go or distracted by something or someone, so to have the daily routine of taking a short time out can be good for helping to deal with stress and anxiety, never more so than during these uncertain times. The students I have taught over the years have always viewed mindfulness as a positive thing and many of them have found new and different ways of using and practising it.”
In secondary school, tutors check-in on the social and emotional well-being of the students frequently. When time allows, tutors incorporate mindfulness activities into their sessions with secondary students.
OWIS has always used mindfulness in the classroom in order to help students focus, grow and become more aware. However, teachers and administrators continue to find different methods to use mindfulness during this unprecedented time.
To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and how it is used at OWIS, visit us today.