The Youth Mindfulness Kids programme is a 16-lesson introduction to mindfulness for 7 to 11 year olds, with a strong emphasis on experiential learning. The lessons build up sequentially, introducing and exploring new facets of mindfulness with each lesson. The first six lessons focus on cultivating the foundational axioms of mindfulness: intention, attention and attitude.
As the course progresses, children then learn to cultivate gratitude, handle difficult thoughts and emotions, and finally develop kindness towards themselves and others. Importantly, the key foundations of mindfulness - i.e. paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and warmth - are continually strengthened throughout all 16 lessons.
As the Youth Mindfulness Kids Programme progresses, more time is devoted to mindfulness practice as opposed to talking about or conceptualising mindfulness. In the early lessons the children will be invited to practise for 1, 2 or 3 minutes at a time, whereas in the later lessons 10 and 11 year-old children are often able to practice for as much as 13, 14 or 15 minutes. Each Youth Mindfulness Kids lesson usually consists of a sitting practice, a movement practice and a lying down practice.
Enquiry refers to exploring in dialogue with the children their experience of practising mindfulness. Rather than explaining or teaching, enquiry offers the teacher the opportunity to take the role of non-expert and explore the children’s experience of practising mindfulness with enthusiasm and curiosity. This is a wonderful way to develop a method of communicating that is based on openness, kindness and non-judgment. The enquiry process is a powerful way for the children to develop a sense of cohesion as a group and ‘experience’ the essential attitudinal components of mindfulness.
Children spend a lot of time at school sitting behind desks and being asked to be still. This at a time when they are biologically programmed to move, explore and adventure into the world. As such, mindful movement is a great way to release some of this energy and often the children are very happy to be still after moving a lot. What’s more, mindful movement offers new avenues for the children to deepen their understanding and application of mindfulness in daily life.
For mindfulness to be mindfulness it has to come from within. If children are to be mindful, they have to decide of their own volition to bring their mind to the present moment and practise being aware of what is happening. As such it is crucial to engage children and for them to decide that mindfulness is something they want to do. If it’s boring they simply won’t engage, so the most powerful way to do this is to make it fun and interesting! The Youth Mindfulness Kids Programme is packed full of fun activities, games and videos, all designed to illustrate different aspects of mindfulness and encourage the children’s engagement.
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