Social-emotional learning (SEL) should be relaxing. We believe that relaxed teachers teach better, and relaxed students learn better. Attempts to incorporate SEL into the classroom will be less successful if teachers are stressed or students are bored. The key to effective SEL curriculum is getting everyone involved, and the best way to get everyone involved is to make it fun. Here are three fun ways to incorporate social-emotional learning into the classroom with Mindful Practices.
You may not think “fun” when you think of yoga, but there are plenty of ways to get kids engaged in this useful exercise. Our Mindful Practices SEL coaches lead in-class movement sessions based on yoga practices. These workshops get kids up and moving while helping them develop self-awareness, self-management, and relational skills.
One way Mindful Practices makes yoga fun for kids is through teaching Hip Hop Yoga. Add a little music and high-energy choreography to the mix, and kids will perk right up at the chance to get involved in their own mind-body wellness. The athletic nature of Hip Hop Yoga helps kids blow off steam, which in turn will make them more relaxed and ready to listen when it is time to get back to classwork. This can be a great program to incorporate into a weekly after-school program or use as a special treat to help students unwind during testing seasons.
- Mindful Meditation
Again, you may not think meditation sounds like a fun activity for kids. But just like with yoga, there are ways to make mindfulness more child-friendly and engaging while still effective. Fun meditation games help students increase concentration and self-awareness, which helps them relax and focus in the classroom. Meditation is part of the Mindful Practices workshops, but teachers can also use it on their own. Help children relax in-between activities with these child-friendly meditation methods based on visualization exercises.
- Computer Programs
Another way to get kids involved in their own SEL is through computer games. Mindful Practices utilizes a tool called Class Catalyst to promote ongoing mindfulness and student engagement. Classroom Catalyst gives them an interactive way to acknowledge and record their emotional state. Students can mark how full their “inner battery” is and select their current mood from a series of emoticons. They are also encouraged to make confidential notes about how they are feeling, which promotes awareness of the reasons behind their emotional state. They can also select simple, fun mindfulness activities to perform based on their mood.
Using computer programs is an easy way to incorporate SEL into daily classroom activities. It gives students a chance to take a break from their classmates and focus on themselves. Additionally, because these activities resemble computer games, students are likely to be engaged in participating. The Class Catalyst program also helps teachers track their students’ development and gives them a break to check in on their own emotional well-being throughout the week.
These are just three ways Mindful Practices helps teachers and students have fun while incorporating SEL into the classroom. Mindfulness should be relaxing, and with these kinds of support, it can be.