Back to School Essentials: Yoga and Mindfulness for Children and Teens

Required School Supplies:

  • 3-1 1/2 3-ring binder
  • 4 packages college lined loose-leaf paper
  • 1 composition notebook (ELA)
  • Compassion
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Patience

Parents across the country are scrambling from store to store scooping up supplies. Kids and teens are starting to wake up early again. Administrators and teachers are putting final touches on new curriculum and classrooms. The new school year has begun and everyone involved is getting ready.

In the flurry of preparations, let’s pause to remember the inner resources we all really need to thrive and flourish this year. What can we, as parents, teachers and caregivers, provide to equip our loved ones with skills they need to navigate the upcoming stress of the new school year? Here are few simple, easy to implement ideas to start the school year on a positive, mindful note.

Compassion

“I know you are starting a new grade level this year, with new students and teachers and academic challenges. Would you like to take a walk and talk about your thoughts and feelings about the new year?” 

Imagine having to change jobs or bosses every single year! Essentially, that’s what many children and teens do throughout their school experience. We tend to brush past this yearly change because it is normal. Normal or not, it isn’t easy for some kids and can be a major source of hidden stress. Acknowledging the challenge and offering a listening ear can help alleviate some of the anxiety kids may have about meeting the new year. Carving out a little time within the hustle of preparations lets your child know that their feelings matter as much (more) than the pencils, paper and schedules. Take a walk, grab an ice cream cone, have a cup of tea or plan whatever simple activity your young person enjoys with the intention of letting them know, once again, that you are there, you understand and you are always willing to listen. whenever they need you. Even if they don’t open up in that moment, you are showing that the door is open for future connection.

 

Generosity

“Hey, why don’t we call your teacher to see if there is anything we can do to help out in the first couple of weeks of school?”

Modeling generosity and including your child in generous actions helps to remind them of its’ value. We can be generous with our time, money, energy and spirit. Sometimes our own to-do lists are so long that it seems we don’t have time to be generous to others. Yet, generous actions can energize everyone involved, making it easier in the long run to accomplish all of the mundane tasks on our lists. Offering to help another family get supplies together or an action as simple purchasing an extra pack of pencils for the classroom weaves a sense of caring and community into the yearly school prep activities.

Kindness

“Please say ‘hello and good morning’ to your teacher from me today.”

An easy way to model kindness is to send your child to school with a short note or card for their teachers. Let your child read the note wishing their teachers a great new year full of connection and discovery. Express gratitude to the teacher for caring for your child each day. The kindness and gratitude is sure to brighten the teachers morning and could  help your child grow a positive relationship with their teacher, as well. Most importantly, your child is part of an act of kindness that can easily be replicated autonomously in the future. When sticky situations crop up later in the year, and you hear that a classmate is having trouble, you can prompt your child to offer a kind note.

 

Patience

We all need it. Patience has been identified as a major factor in growing resilience. Yoga and mindfulness practices offer us unlimited opportunities to practice and cultivate our patience. Yoga postures build focus, concentration and require patience. Yoga practice gives youth an way to embody patience and store it up for future use. In yoga and mindfulness, we work with our impulse to quit. The practices train our minds to deal with challenge differently. Rather than impulsively giving up in the face of challenge, we learn to utilize our breathing as an anchor and path into our inner resources of fortitude, perseverance and patient strength. Check out what these teens have to say about the impact of yoga on school stress:

 

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