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Gillian Sanger

Teaching Mindfulness in Educational Settings

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Who amongst us has taught within the school systems, whether to students or teachers? What ages did you teach and how did you effectively share your understandings and practice?

Share whatever this experience is or was like for you. And, if you have any questions about teaching mindfulness within the education system, share those as well and hopefully we can support one another in learning more.

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HI,

I teach children up to 12 years old mindfulness and yoga. I do this in schools and in small community groups. I have tried to engage teens but have been unsuccessful. I would love to hear how people have had success with engaging teens.

Since COVID I  have had no work but I feel hopeful that this will be needed now more than ever. I really want to link in with nature. Has anyone done classes with children linking nature?

Thank you

 

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Hi Karen,

How wonderful to be able to work with young children! As a psychologist I have worked with a lot of teenagers. The way I engage with them is often about relating to them by telling a bit about how much I struggled at their age. I don't go into detail, just share that I know how hard it is to be a teen, with all the emotional turmoil, the hormones, the parental b.s., school pressures, peer pressure, etc. Once they know I'm an ally, they begin to open up. I also let them know right away that our conversations are confidential, unless they reveal something that I feel needs to be brought up with their parents, but that I'll only talk to their parents after discussing it with them and deciding together on a strategy. Humor always helps, as well as using games and play (they might resist at first but they actually still have their younger playful nature in them). I also demonstrate my interest in them by asking a lot of questions- not just probing questions about their feelings but questions about what school is like, the latest trends in fashion, social media, and the latest lingo in teen-speak. They usually love to talk about themselves and all things teen-related. When I teach yoga, I make it fun and exciting by emphasizing how powerful they'll feel doing the poses, and how it's kind of like a magical way to transform their body and mind. Same thing with meditation. 

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Oh, I forgot. In terms of linking things with nature, I've taken them on nature walks, mindful walks in silence where the instructions are to walk slowly and pay attention to what they see, hear, smell, etc. and then we discuss afterwards. We also have collected items that appeal to them, maybe a rock, leaf, blades of grass, and discussed those. Taking pictures in nature is also appealing and easy to do since almost everyone has their phones with them (older kids, that is). That's just a few ideas. I also do nature visualization meditations. 

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Thanks @Karen for the question and Jo for your reflections. I don't have much experience with teenagers, but I like what Jo has shared. I think creating a container of confidentiality is definitely important, and also letting them know you are aware of the challenges that come with being a teenager.

With children, I've used nature visualizations as well. There's so much potential with that because life themes present themselves so effortlessly in nature (i.e. going with the flow - water, feeling grounded - standing tall as a tree, etc.) 

I'm not sure if you've seen this resource yet, but there may be some information/guidance in here that would be useful for you: https://mindfulnessexercises.com/meditation-scripts-for-kids/

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@Karen

Hello!  I’ve been an early childhood educator for over 20 years.  With young kids, I have always incorporated movement into mindfulness.  I’ve also utilized themes, such as colors and animals to help children conceptualize things.  
 

As a single mom with a teenager and tween, it definitely seems more challenging to get my own kids to practice or consider mindfulness.  With them, I try to speak more through my actions (maintaining my practice and altar or taking big deep breaths in front of them when I feel overwhelmed, for example).  They do both journal which is an offshoot of my own practice as well.

Hope this helps!  Be well.

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@@Jo L

 

On 6/24/2020 at 2:57 PM, Jo L said:

Hi Karen,

How wonderful to be able to work with young children! As a psychologist I have worked with a lot of teenagers. The way I engage with them is often about relating to them by telling a bit about how much I struggled at their age. I don't go into detail, just share that I know how hard it is to be a teen, with all the emotional turmoil, the hormones, the parental b.s., school pressures, peer pressure, etc. Once they know I'm an ally, they begin to open up. I also let them know right away that our conversations are confidential, unless they reveal something that I feel needs to be brought up with their parents, but that I'll only talk to their parents after discussing it with them and deciding together on a strategy. Humor always helps, as well as using games and play (they might resist at first but they actually still have their younger playful nature in them). I also demonstrate my interest in them by asking a lot of questions- not just probing questions about their feelings but questions about what school is like, the latest trends in fashion, social media, and the latest lingo in teen-speak. They usually love to talk about themselves and all things teen-related. When I teach yoga, I make it fun and exciting by emphasizing how powerful they'll feel doing the poses, and how it's kind of like a magical way to transform their body and mind. Same thing with meditation. 

 

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Hi Jo L thank you for sharing all those wonderful ideas and ways to engage teens. It is definitely a tricky age but one with so much growth and potential. I love that they get to experience nature on mindful walks. I agree the more you take an interest in how they are doing and what they are experiencing the more they will trust you. 

I really hope that the school's are open to having me take part in working with teens. It is so important to plant the seeds that they can take into the future with them.  

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HI Gillian, 

Thank you for the link, I will check it out. I love the children and being in nature. It would be great to see teens engage in nature and mindfulness too.

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Hi Rachel,

Yes, great ideas to bring it in and meet the children where they are in their development and interests.

I think teens will pretend not to listen but they do absorb it in their own time. I'm sure for your own children they are at the stage where it's not cool to listen to Mum but they will use it and appreciate it in life. 

Being able to bring that to them is amazing.

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16 hours ago, Karen said:

I think teens will pretend not to listen but they do absorb it in their own time.

Interesting you say this Karen. I was just talking to a family member about how change happens, and we talked about this idea of absorbing things overtime. I think this applies to adults to.

Specifically, we were talking about what happens when people are in a debate or argument. Often our egos stand in the way of us being able to acknowledge aspects of the other 'side' and yet we might find ourselves reflecting upon their words and views in the days that follow (often, this leads to an inner shift or opening). I think teenagers need this time to absorb things even more so as they are newly developing their own ideas and their ability to discern and sift through information.

Thanks for bringing this up!

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I am a college professor so 18-22 is my target age. I find this group just wants someone to listen without judgment. They want an adult to see them and respect who they are becoming. I am wanting to start bringing mindfulness to this group as we move back into a school year (covid be damned!) and I look forward to this group as I move into this challenge! 

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