Wishes, the first session in a series of holiday workshops, was about the story of a magic wishing feather. Together we danced and acted out the story. Students were introduced to mindful breathing and visualization tools. They created a wishing jar, where they put their wishes for the future and the new school year. Parents were also asked to reflect on what they wished for their children for their schooling.
One parent said they really appreciated the opportunity to reflect on what they wished for their child, in regards to school. She said that most of her wishes had nothing to do with learning and she just threw in a learning wish to create balance. I know I feel the same way. I just want my daughters to feel happy and secure and that their passions, music, drawing and art, are valued at school.
Things to Continue or Try at home:
- Mindful ‘Belly’ breathing (Follow this link for more information on Mindful Breathing)- can be done anywhere at any time.
- Wishing jar– Let your child be the expert and help you make your own wishing jar. Get some of the items that are special to you. Have a chat about what they are an why. Make some new wishes together.
- Fearful thoughts into wishes- We can transform a fearful/worried/ scared thought. Encourage your child to tell you if they have anything that is troubling (with regards to starting school or when school starts settling in issues) I feel scared or I am worried that I won’t be able to read. Then put it into present tense affirmative language. I am excited that I am now learning to read. Have them repeat after you and draw a picture to represent this new wish. Then place the new thought into the wishing jar.
Dreams was a real departure from future thinking of ‘Wishes’ and more about everyday.
During the warm up, This isn’t a blanket, students were encouraged to use their imaginations to turn a blanket into a sled, hair, a ghost, etc. Then we all went to bed. The music encouraged us to dance and act out the different kinds of dreams we have.
I used bedtime, dreams and broken sleep to help introduce different mindfulness techniques that can be used to help children calm themselves after a long day.
As a teacher, I see the negative effects on those students who don’t get enough sleep every night. And on my journey as a parent it can still be a tricky time of the day.
Five Activities to Encourage Mindfulness at Bedtime:
1. Mindful listening: The singing bowl and the chimes were used to get the students to listen carefully for when the resonance stopped. There is something about these two instruments that creates such a peaceful energy in the room. For more mindful listening activities check out Mindful listening.
2. Mindful breathing with a buddy: The students were asked to bring their favourite night time friend (toy or stuffed animal) to class. They then placed it on their bellies and then practice mindful ‘belly breathing. (Follow this link on mindful breathing for more instruction)
For those children who have the issue: I am worried I may not get to see you as much now that I am at school. There is a gorgeous book that addresses this very topic called The Invisible String by Patrice karst Illustrated by Geoff Stevenson.
3. Mindful fingers: With your five fingers spread, touch the bottom on the outside of your pinkie finger. Inhale as you move your finger up the pinkie and exhale as you move the finger down. Continue to the rest of your fingers. This is great for the tactile learners who love touch. It was truly beautiful watching the concentration as the children practiced this technique.4. Scary dream/thoughts: First do number 2 or 3 on this list followed by choosing a happy thought to replace the scary thoughts. The students were asked to think of scary dreams as thoughts. We are in control of what we think so at any moment in the day or night we can choose a happy thought to make ourselves feel better. First the children were asked to choose a happy memory to focus on. Then they were asked to think of something in the future they are looking forward to.
5. The Starfish Relaxation: The lesson concluded with the students lying down in the star fish position. They were asked to focus on different parts of their bodies and with every breath imagine they are getting more and more relaxed. When they were as still as they could be, building on the previous lesson, a wishing feather would come and find them. I dropped feathers on the children as the slept. In the past when I have called on students to invite stillness through relaxation I have used a butterfly, bubbles, balloons, pom poms, or a puppet as a special treat.
These are not just mindfulness at bedtime activities. They can be used at any point in the day to create calm and presence, and change tricky thinking into happy or more optimistic thoughts.
I hope your week is filled with peace, presence and deep sleep!
P.S. If you liked Mindfulness at Bedtime you may also enjoy Mindful Listening.