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+ Feedback from Middle School Children

I conducted 3 classes on ‘Focusing on breathing’ for 2 boys in Gr 8 at Robert C. Parker School over 2 months – April to May 2014 (1) (2). These were after school classes for an hour. The way the classes were done is explained at (3). Their combined feedback is presented below.

When did they practice? 

  • Bedtime
  • Math class
  • Before homework
  • Mad at my brother
  • At School

What modes (s) did they practice? 

  • Folding mode
  • Tip mode
  • Segment mode
  • Counting mode
  • Feeling mode
  • Staring mode
  • 911 mode
  • Waking up postures on the bed – Phase I (4)

Why did they practice? 

  • I started to lose focus
  • I was mad at my brother
  • To calm myself
  • I was tired
  • To relax
  • Before I went to my thesis presentation
  • I could not fall asleep
  • Could not focus at school

How did the breathing help me?

  • It helped me get all the distractions out of my mind and just lets me focus
  • It relaxes me
  • I was less mad at my brother who was bugging me
  • I was able to do my homework
  • I was able to sleep

I like the breathing because

  •  It is very effective
  • It is relaxing and it works
  • It is relaxing and it is not hard to do
  • It helps me focus and it relaxes me

(1) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(2) Robert C. Parker School
(3) How were the classes done?: In the first class, they were shown all the 7 modes and practiced them briefly – ‘Folding mode’, ‘Tip mode’, ‘Segment mode’, ‘Counting mode, ‘Feeling mode’ , ‘Staring mode’ and ‘911 mode’. They were advised to practice at bedtime. In the second class, we reviewed all the modes and corrections made. I suggested they use the technique on waking up in the bed, turning the body in four different positions. In the third class, they were shown the ‘Waking up postures’ and ‘Morning exercises’. In every class, they filled out a feedback form with the questions (a) When did I practice? (b) What mode did I practice?(c) Why did I practice? (d) How did the breathing help me?
(4) Waking up postures on  the bed – Phase I

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@ Mindfulness at Robert C. Parker School

Here is a wonderful blog by Meg Taylor Head of Robert C. Parker School (1) on how the school is introducing mindfulness in various modes. Focusing on breathing (2) is a popular mode in the elementary grades, now being extended to the middle school.

” Learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle the frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating with peers are skills that depend on the ability to understand and manage emotions.

As one part of our effort to help children build emotional resiliency and self control, we use mindfulness techniques with them every day. Our faculty has worked with C S Rao (3), a grandparent in our school, to learn a form of breathing (2) that allows us to quickly relax and tune out distractions. He calls it ‘Counting Breaths’ (2) and it has the effect of feeding oxygen to the brain, calming emotions, clearing a busy mind, and giving a sense of peace and focus.

Teachers have adapted CS’s ideas for classroom practice. In Pre K 3, a chime is rung and children breathe smoothly and quietly, as the chime sound diminishes.

In Pre K 4, students use the image of falling leaves while they breathe.

In K-1, Liliana has adopted the language “going into your silence” as children sit quietly in both mind and body and breath slowly.

Grade 2-3’s practice taking five slow clearing breaths as do the 4-5’s. (4)

This year middle school teachers are going to teach the students CS’s method of using the fingers to count breaths. As CS says, the technique can be used anytime – when you can’t sleep at night, or if you are feeling anxious (5). And it works! I use it in the middle of the night when my mind is racing (6).

The effect with children is very positive. They have a strategy to calm themselves that they can use anywhere. It is a great tool for successfully negotiating frustrations, stress and anxiety and gaining attentiveness and focus. Having the ability to be mindful gives children confidence that they can handle difficult things (7). That is a gift for any individual.

You can read more in this complex and fascinating article “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”, in Mind/Shift (8).”

(1) Perspectives on Parker Blogspot
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) Suryanarayana Chennapragada
(4) Breathing breaks in the classroom – Report by Lynn Schuster
(5) Daytime practice
(6) How to Enjoy Quality Sleep and Conquer Insomnia?
(7) Benefits for Mind, Body and Relationships
(8) “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”  Post in Mind/Shift

Related pages
Training children

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