What and Why?
For many people and children, COVID-19 has been a traumatic experience. We are in completely unprecedented territory at the moment, and when children go through traumatic experiences the reactions can be intense and long-lasting.
The structure and functioning of a child’s brain, through the activation of stress response systems, can change when exposed to a trauma. For example, children who were once outgoing may turn introverted or vice versa. When exposed to a stressor, the body naturally goes into a “fight”, “flight” or “freeze” response that activates several systems in the body and released stress hormones that are designed to be protective for survival.
One thing we do know is that psychological safety is one of the key elements for true learning to happen. Children can find a love of learning in places where it’s safe to take risks – and often that can be fostered by using mindfulness activities and being open to discussions surrounding mental health.
Mindfulness as a Tool
Mindfulness can be used as an activity in the classroom. A simple way to explain it to children is just the application of awareness to the present moment. This can have numerous and lasting positive impacts for your students. For example, decreased stress and anxiety, increased attention span, improved interpersonal relationships, strengthened compassion, and better coping mechanisms.
There are different types you can incorporate such as breath, sensory experiences and sound, guided imagery and movement, which can all be adapted depending on age group.
We have attached a google drive with some incredible resources that you can use. Have a look for yourself. The one titled ‘Mental Health’ (zip drive) is an amazing way to introduce your students to the question ‘What is mental health?’, and will support you in talking about it in a more open way. It can be great to reinforce with your students that this is not a time to be graded or observed. It is simply a time to get through your thoughts, so that your mind is ready for the next lesson.
In the Google Drive you will also find:
- Mental Health Units
- Mindfulness Activities
- Student choice and reflection
- Gratitude and Shout Out’s