It seemed only right to begin with an activity to help create calm. Who knows, meditation may even become a regular practice in your household as most of us are forced to ‘hit the pause button’ for a while…
This first activity will explore the practice of meditation – a practice which is at the very heart of the Buddhist belief system and one which could help us quieten the mind and find calm in these difficult times.
I am well aware that for many of you, teaching your children at home may be completely alien and a daunting prospect. I’m also aware that some teachers may be teaching children of mixed ages as we continue to support children of key workers in schools. These activities are simply here to help you and give you ideas. You do not have to follow the guidance below to the letter, but rather pick and choose what will work for you – do as much or as little as you can.
1) Watch these fantastic BBC clips about meditation presented by Bettany Hughes, broadcaster and historian, where she discusses exactly what meditation is and why/how people do it. Talk to your child about the information you learn and perhaps try the breathing exercise together.
2) Experiment with meditation at home. You may have a meditation app your child can listen to or you may be able to help them find a suitable guided meditation video on YouTube*, such as the brilliant Cosmic Kids’ Zen Den Meditation Movies in my Mind (8-min guided meditation encouraging children to visualise images in their minds) or Yoga with Adriene‘s Meditation for the Classroom video (7-mins long with a focus on stillness, posture and breathing techniques).
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I would also highly recommend the excellent CBeebies ‘Wind Down’ – Daydreams guided meditation for slightly older children. It lasts for an hour, which may be too long for some, but you could easily choose to listen for as long as you feel you’d like to. It’s a beautiful guided meditation that encourages children to focus on the finer details of the natural world to help them relax; it also has stunning visuals and a variety of calming sounds to stimulate the senses. Before you start the video, make sure you get comfy and set the atmosphere (you may light a scented candle, spray some sleep/lavender mist or even dim the lights!). If possible, do the meditation together. You’d be surprised how much longer children sustain activities when they have an adult role model right beside them!
3) Talk about the meditation experience. Did they like it? What did they like about it? How do their bodies feel? How do their minds feel? What was it like? Did it remind them of anything? Would they like to do it again sometime? Share your own experience of it too. This helps children learn how to articulate their thoughts and feelings. Where do you feel most relaxed? Describe this environment to me – what do you see, hear, smell, feel? If you could design your own meditation journey, where would you go? (It may help some children to have a series of images of peaceful, calming places at this point in the discussion). Again, encourage them to describe it in detail.
4) Write your own guided meditation! A fun task following the meditation, would be for the child to write a guided meditation for you (or someone else in the home) to help them feel relaxed. They could even write it for a grandparent or member of the family that is living somewhere else as guided meditations are mainly audible so they could be read aloud over the ‘phone or via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom etc. The important thing here is to give your child a real audience and purpose for the writing task. This makes it more meaningful for them. Have a read over this guide for Writing a Guided Meditation. I also found this great Write your own Guided Meditation script, which may be useful to help children plan out their ideas.
5) Perform and Share! Finally, give your child the opportunity to perform or share their writing. This could be as simple as reading it aloud to someone else in the house, or phoning a granny or grandad to read aloud over the ‘phone. You may encourage them to add sound effects, or record their guided meditation narration on your iPhone/iPad to play back any time they’re in need of ‘winding down’. If your child is technically-minded, they may wish to use an app, such as iMovie, to turn their script into a relaxing film.They could also extend this piece by creating some artwork of their ‘special place’.
Create, Share and Connect
If you do complete the activities, or you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you! Please do feel free to share your successes and feed back in the comments box below or post a photo on social media (you can find me on Facebook and Twitter) using the hashtag #literacywithmissp… Good luck!
- UK Mind has advice about Coronavirus and wellbeing.
- Calm and Headspace have both released free digital meditation apps to help the public cope with anxiety and panic.
- Calm has also created an online hub with content including sleep stories, meditations, music and mindful movement. They also plan to livestream anxiety-reducing meditations soon…
- Headspace has unlocked a specially-curated collection of meditation and mindfulness content, called Weathering the Storm, available in several languages.