Strategy

Mindfulness Break

Meditation, Calm Breaks

UDL 5.3

A Mindfulness Break is a self-regulation tool in which a teacher guides students through consciously calming their minds and bodies in order to focus their attention on the present moment. First, the teacher asks students to sit quietly and pay close attention to what they see, hear, smell, feel and taste (e.g. “Let’s turn on our spidey senses!”). Students remain quietly seated for about 60 seconds, using their senses to take in observations. Upon conclusion of the Mindfulness Break, the teacher signals the end of the break (e.g. turn off “spidey senses”) and proceeds with follow up questions about the experience (e.g. “How do you feel after the break?”). This strategy supports students with self-regulation and expression, which are critical for young learners as they build social skills and the capacity to focus.

Implementation Tips

Preparing Students
Teach students the essential components of a mindfulness break before they begin. Tell students to pay attention to each breath, relax the whole body and clear all of the thoughts from the mind.
Using Signals
Use a timer, chime, or light to signal the beginning and end of the mindfulness break. Young students enjoy visual cues and interesting audio cues.
Anticipating Challenges
Discuss challenges students may face when quieting their minds before the strategy begins. Think aloud about how to non-judgmentally observe distractions (e.g. "I hear a lot of nearby traffic right now. I am going to continue to relax and focus on my other senses.”)
Including Imagery
Prepare young students to effectively engage in a mindfulness break using imagery. Ask students to picture how Spider-Man uses his spidey senses to focus on what is going on around him. Ask students to imagine they are putting on their masks and gloves to activate their own spidey senses.
Engaging Students
Engage young students in mindfulness breaks by teaching them to use “spidey senses.” Display masks and gloves in the dress up area beforehand to help students get into character.
Summarizing the Experience
Facilitate follow-up discussion after a mindfulness break to support students in connecting the calming effects of the break with their own feelings. For example, ask what sensations they noticed during the break including what they heard, smelled, and felt.
Identifying When to Use Breaks
Encourage students to think about when they should use this strategy so that they learn to regulate their own behavior. Collectively brainstorm examples of moments in which they could use this strategy.

Examples

Refocusing the Whole Class
During free play, a teacher notices that students have become very loud and are not responding to the teacher’s requests to lower their voices. Some students have also began to express frustration about not having a turn in certain play areas. The teacher turns off the lights and announces that it is time to take a break so that they can quiet their minds. Students to go to the dress up area and get a pair of gloves and a mask to put on. The teacher says, “We have our masks and gloves. Let’s sit down, close our eyes and turn on our spidey senses. Take a deep breath. Blow it out. Think about what you hear and feel around you.” Students then sit quietly for 60 seconds. After the break, the teacher asks a few follow-up questions to prompt students to reflect on what they noticed during the break and how the break made them feel.
Offering a Quick Intervention
During circle time, a teacher notices that a student is having difficulty sitting still and engaging in learning. The teacher asks an assistant teacher to escort the student to a comfortable area of the classroom to take a break. The assistant non-judgmentally says, “I noticed that your body wanted to be loud during circle time. Let’s take a mindfulness break together.” The assistant teacher and student sit down, close their eyes and practice taking deep breaths and blowing them out. The assistant teacher gently prompts the student to use the senses to observe the present environment. After a couple of minutes, the assistant escorts the student back to circle time.

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