School-Based Mindfulness Practices for the Five SEL Components

“Deep breaths are like little love notes to your body.”

In this blog, we will review mindfulness practices that can be conducted in classroom settings that support the five social emotional learning components. Mindfulness practices that can be carried out in a classroom setting to support self-awareness in students include quiet contemplation (Lawlor, 2016). This can be achieved through paying attention to the breath and reflective writing (Lawlor, 2016). Paying attention to the breath is a nice, introductory mindfulness practice for students who are not familiar with it. Reflective writing allows the opportunity for students to explore their inner emotions and feelings (Lawlor, 2016). Art exercises can promote feelings that come from within and let students express themselves freely (Lawlor, 2016). In addition, promoting sustained attention through mindfulness practices can support self-management. Activities that include deep belly breathing, where the student focuses on the feel of their belly as they inhale and exhale out, is one example. Mindful walking is another mindfulness practice that promote sustained attention (Lawlor, 2016). Teachers can lead students around the classroom where they focus not only on their steps, but how it feels to be walking and the different sensations that come with it. Practicing these mindful practices can also help with transitions, such as coming back from recess and other activities, and encourage feelings of calmness and the management of emotions among students (Lawlor, 2016).

As for social awareness, loving-kindness mindfulness practices can support the social emotional learning component (Lawlor, 2016). This mindful practice can help students develop awareness and compassion for themselves and others (Lawlor, 2016). Sharing stories that include themes of compassion and adding open-ended questions that are geared towards exploring how the characters felt, further supports social awareness (Lawlor, 2016). Furthermore, mindfulness practices that promote listening to oneself and others can foster relationship skills (Lawlor, 2016). Activities such as engaging in the “telephone” game or students taking turns being the speaker and the listener are examples of mindful listening, which can support relationship skills (Lawlor, 2016). Finally, mindfulness practices that are set within nature can encourage responsible decision-making (Lawlor, 2016). This can be achieved outside on the playground or a quick walk outside, where the teacher directs students to pay attention to nature sounds (e.g., bird songs), the colors of a flower, or the feel of the ground as they walk outside (Lawlor, 2016). These simple mindfulness practices that can be completed in a classroom setting can support the five components of social emotional learning in students.

Mindfulness Activity

Feel free to participate in this four minute Mindfulness activity led by Amanda McMahon, Ph.D. from Washington State University.