I am passionate about helping children develop a lifelong connection to nature.Â As a certified meditation and yoga instructor for 25-years,Â I am fascinated with the power of the mind and the limitless potential of the human spirit.Â Â Nature-based mindful meditation is a great way to toÂ connect children to themselves and the world around them.Â
Nature provides us with limitless, enjoyable opportunities to focus and be absorbed in the moment, and offers countless ways to improve our minds.Â Â By practicing mindfulness activities outside, children can enhance their focus, emotional regulation, empathy and happiness through connection with nature.
THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
Meditation helps kids:
- calm down
- Â relax
- Â focus
- Â listen
- excel in all areas of learning (literacy, numeracy, science,Â art)
CONNECTING TO OUR TRUE NATURE
The practices of mindfulness and meditation offer people of all ages an effective path to develop healthy responses to the chaotic world around them and often inside of them. The key benefit of meditation and mindfulness is developing self-knowledge, or learning about whatâs going on inside. This positively influences student wellbeing, emotional intelligence and resilience. Other benefits include improved concentration, sharpened focusing abilities and simply being calm and still.
We are a culture increasingly becoming addicted to instant communication and ever-changing technologies. While technologies such as mobile phones bring wonderful opportunities, children are spending more and more time being passively engaged in these technologies rather than actively engaging in the world around them. This includes the natural world and our environment. There is growing concern about the lack of time young people spend in nature and the consequences of this disconnection as outlined by Planet Ark Environmental Foundation in theirÂ 8472623511Â research.
For six years, I managed Australia’s largest nature-care and community engagement campaign for Planet Ark and spearheaded the research mentioned above, as well asÂ introducing nature-based mindfulness into Australian schools.
I partnered with award-winning curriculum writers at Cool Australia to create the Nature of Mindfulness series toÂ celebrate Schools Tree Day. These lesson plans provide teachers with a range of activities that help their students concentrate, regulate their emotions, exercise empathy and experience happiness through connection with nature.Â The resources were written by Janet Etty-Leal, a highly experienced educator and have been downloaded over 10,000 times by Australian educators.Â Â The lessons are FREEÂ on the Cool Australia websiteÂ www.coolaustralia.com.Â It only takes a minute to register and you’ll have access to a tree-rific digital toolkit!
NATURE OF MINDFULNESS
Nature of Mindfulness lessons are a great way to integrate outdoor learning, mindfulness and meditation intoÂ daily teaching.
This series of Early Years Learning Framework aligned lessons support Early Learning educators and are backed by scientific research. These lessons contain step-by-step instructions and scripts â all the tools educators need to feel supported and confident when guiding children in their mindfulness practice.
This suite of lessons allows you to explore mindfulness using nature as a stimulus. They are designed to help children to tune into each of their senses, their environment and their inner thoughts and feelings. Children develop skills in focus, attention, resilience, emotional intelligence and regulation of the body and emotions.
Nature of Mindfulness Lessons:
- Utilising a âBreathing Buddyâ to calm and focus children on their breathing
- Guided mediations for âsmiling on the insideâ
- Using all five senses to explore an outside area
- Using the premise of a superhero with superpowers as a means of focusing children on each of their senses
These primary lessons were developed by renowned educator and designer of schools mindfulness programs, Janet Etty-Leal. She brings a world of practical experience to the lessons, which contain step-by-step instructions and scripts â all the tools teachers need to feel supported and confident when guiding students in their mindfulness practice.
There are a range of 2, 5, 15 and 60 minute activities for Year 5 & 6 teachers which cover the following Australian Curriculum outcomes for Health and Physical Education:
- Plan and practise strategies to promote health, safety and well being
- Examine the influence of emotional responses on behaviour and relationships
- Investigate the role of preventive health in promoting and maintaining health, safety and well being for individuals and their communities
- Explore how participation in outdoor activities supports personal and community health and well being and creates connections to the natural and built environment
- To develop natural body awareness.
- To create enhanced focus and improved concentration.
- To develop self-knowledge, empathy, emotional regulation and resilience.
- To cultivate present moment awareness so that calm, considered and conscious choices can begin to replace impulsive, unconscious reactions.
The aim of these activities is to help students make sense of mindfulness by applying it to life. In the first activity students make a âStates of Mindâ bottle, which when shaken symbolises the mind in both its messiness and when left to settle symbolises a mind at peace. In the second activity students take a Nature Awareness Walk, and in the third activity students find a Natural Mindful Talisman or Totem to aid them in their mindful practice.
- Create enhanced focus, emotional regulation, empathy and happiness through connection with nature
- Cultive present moment awareness so that calm, considered and conscious choices can begin to replace impulsive, unconscious reactions
- Provide hands-on contact with the natural world