Research by the University of Exeter and the University of Southampton suggests that mindfulness may help children regulate their emotions, concentrate, make better decisions and much more. Greater awareness can also help your pupils improve their group singing as they develop the skills to listen to each other.
Mindfulness is about being in the present moment and observing your thoughts, feelings and the world around you. Have a go with these ideas and bring some mindful moments into your school day. You don’t have to do them all at once. Just try one at a time, building just a few minutes of peace into your daily routine. In the beginning try just doing it for one minute and then you can build up slowly to three minutes, five minutes or even longer.
If they feel comfortable, your pupils can close their eyes to concentrate on their own breath. Guide them through a few deep and slow breaths – in and out. Putting their hands on their bellies, they can feel what the breath does in their bodies. Where does it go? What does it feel like? You can also try this while they are lying down on the ground as they will be able to feel their breath more easily.
Have your pupils listen very intently to a piece of music of your choosing. They can close their eyes if they want to. Before you begin, ask them to really focus on the song. What do they notice in it? What instruments do they hear? If there’s a voice, what does it sound like? If there are multiple voices, can they follow just one voice through the whole song? Or maybe just follow one instrument? Maybe you could listen to the song twice and ask them to pay attention to different things each time.
Lead your group in a song or a warm-up that you all know very well, maybe even a nursery rhyme or something like Oleo. When you are singing together, ask the children to listen to each other and to themselves. They may also want to try closing their eyes. Can they pick out individual voices? What does the song make them feel like when they are singing?
Afterwards, discuss whichever activity you did. Did your pupils find it difficult to concentrate? What did they notice? How were they feeling? Do they feel different after the activity?
N.B: During the activities, remind your pupils that it’s normal for their minds to wander, but when they notice it happening, just bring back their focus to the activity. This is all part of the process and the more they try, the longer they’ll be able to focus in the future. Have a go and let us know how you get on. We’d love to hear about your experience.
- Research from the University of Exeter showing the benefits of mindfulness for children: https://mindfulnessinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MiSP-Research-Summary-2012.pdf
- Further research on mindfulness in schools: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/10/18/the-many-benefitsof-meditation-for-children/#5544228adbe3
Sing Up has always been a champion of the wider benefits of singing – for education, social and health outcomes. As part of Sing Up's 10th birthday, we created the Sing Up Foundation with a commitment to a new charitable purpose using singing as an aid to health and wellbeing. Find out more at www.singupfoundation.org.