With many things to distract student's attention throughout the day, it can be challenging to capture and maintain students' interests in learning. Whether it's texting on the cell phone, wondering about private family issues, or physically going to and from work each day after school, our students are increasingly facing challenges that can supercede their learning experiences. If not managed properly, these challenges lead to academic, behavioral, and social problems within the classroom. Lessons slow or stop, classroom management challenges rise, and overall productivity decreases. This is where mindfulness comes in, a strategy where students learn how to unclutter their minds and concentrate on a specific, relaxing topic--which could be nothing at all.
When using techniques that allow children to relax their bodies, calm their minds, and focus their attention, children are ready to absorb, process, and learn both current and new information. Here are ways you can use mindfulness techniques in your reading classroom.
Before the Reading Lesson
Before a reading lesson, you can turn off the lights and have students sit in their seats or on the carpet. Tell students to take slow, deep breaths, and slowly relax their bodies. Allow them to wiggle or stretch any parts that need to move. Let students silently for a few minutes, with their focus being in inhaling and exhaling.
During the Reading Lesson
You can use mindfulness to have students experience something new using multiple senses and learning processes. For instance, if you are reading a story with cookies, you can have students view, smell, feel, taste, and then consume the cookie. Walking them through each step, students become more aware of the different components of the cookie and able to better establish new experiences or access connections between their own experiences or other stories that have cookies in them as a part of the plot. This helps students be able to increase their ability to describe and connect with a subject, which could impact their writing by making it more descriptive.
After the Reading Lesson
Journaling--a strategy useful throughout the reading lesson--is useful towards the end of the lesson to get students to reflect upon their learning and to flesh out any questions or misconceptions in need of clarification. Have students reflect on central questions that build text-to-self and text-to-world connections. Some questions that may help them in this process are "How do you feel about this story, and say why?", "What do you know now that you did not know before reading this story?", and "How can you use something you learned from this book in your everyday life?
We love to hear from our readers, what has been your experience using these techniques in your classroom?