Should You Be Raising Little Meditators?
A lot has been said about the benefits of meditating for grown-ups—it reduces anxiety, stress and your risk for heart attack or stroke. But adults aren’t the only ones who can be helped through meditation, so can kids.
Schools across the country are testing out whether teaching meditation along with math and reading can help children in and out of the classroom. And what they are finding is fascinating: Kids who participate in meditation training have lower stress hormones, score higher on standardized tests, had fewer behavioral problems, were more attentive and attended class more regularly.
While meditation has yet to become part of the official curriculum in Michigan, there are some teachers who are leading the way. And one of those teachers is Carol Lafferty, a second-grade teacher at Village Oaks Elementary in Novi. “Over the past few years I’ve noticed how many students seem unable to focus, pay attention or control impulses,” she says. “This was so frustrating because it was getting in the way of them reaching their full academic potential.”
Then last summer, Lafferty went to a class taught by a neighbor, who had been teaching mindfulness in the Flint public schools for the past four years. “Teaching the kids mindfulness was so appealing to me as a teacher because it’s so simple to teach, takes very little time out of the day and makes such a huge difference to the climate of the classroom,” she says. “Kids are stressed and constantly multitasking, just like adults, and this teaches them how to just be in the moment for a little bit. It warms my heart when I hear a kid say how anxious he felt during the math test when he got stuck on a problem, but that he used mindfulness, took some deep breaths, relaxed and figured it out.”
If you want to try it out with your own children, ask them to focus on one thing at a time like a sound, their breathing or a feeling. Start with having them focus for 30 seconds or a minute (to a kid that can feel like forever). And check here for some other tips, like how to turn a nature walk into a chance to be mindful.
For other ways to help your kids feel less stress, check out these blogs:
- Adults Aren’t the Only Ones Who Get Stressed Out
- 5 Easy Ways to Get Your Child Into Art
- Tips for Smooth Transitions Into “School Mode”
Photo credit: Travis Swan