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Mindfulness in Kenleys

Recent research has shown that if children can develop their ability to focus their attention, this can impact on their relationships, learning, sports and all areas of life.Practising mindfulness in moments of calm can help strengthen the ability to make use of these strategies when emotions are running high.

In Kenleys we practice mindfulness throughout our day. We model appropriate behaviours, and encourange all of our children to take control of their emotions and to reflect appropriately on their behaviour and feelings.

We have quiet spaces to balance the busy atmosphere in the nursery environment. We sit and talk to the children in these spaces about how, when we allow our bodies to rest in quiet, our minds can settle and we may become aware of things around us and in a new and different way. We use aids such as a bottle of water with glitter in. We demonstrate that when the bottle is shaken the glitter swirls around and explain that this is what our bodies look like when we are angry, with the glitter all swirling making us feel upset. We need to learn to sit quietly and let the glitter settle until we feel as calm as this bottle of water.

Mindfulness brings our attention to what is happening at the here and now. In the present moment.We ask the children sit quietly and notice things. Notice wheat they can see or hear “on the outside” such as a child crying, the birds singing, people shouting etc. Then ask the children what they see or hear “on the inside” – how are they feeling, what is their body telling them. Are they hearing their tummy rumble with hunger. Are they feeling sad, or happy. Are they imagining good things. Is the bird singing making them think of nice walks that they have been on with their family. We integrate tools into our teaching, using food for the children to describe to us using all of their senses. Using our pet guineapigs to see how we can calm the animals by being calm ourselves.

We ask children to lie down with a stone or something heavy on their tummy to feel their calm breaths. This breathing sensation can then be extended to be used when they are feeling sad or anxious (or over excited) about a situation. We remind the children how they might feel sad, angry or scared, but the breathing could help them feel calm in these situations too.

We talk to the children about offering caring wishes during group time. For example a new child may have joined the nursery. The children would be taught to offer that new child “fun and friendship” within the setting. They might have a parent who didn’t want to go to work that morning. They could wish that parent “a happy day with a sunshiny lunchtime” or other such age appropriate wishes. When caring wishes are shared, either verbally or internally, it can help calm our emotions and strengthen our feelings of connection. We reflect with the children and ask “who was a good friend to you today?”

In addition to caring wishes, we ask children what they are thankful for. This helps the children open their eyes to the goodness around them and supports their sense of wellbeing. We help them to take a few minutes to reflect on the good things that happened during the day, have a think about the people we are grateful for, draw a picture of someone they are thankful for.