As our world continues to speed up, it’s more important than ever to help your child slow down. That’s why mindfulness practices are incorporated in every one of YWCA Minneapolis Early Childhood Education classrooms. From infant to school age, we are dedicated to helping kids slow down and learn how to better manage stress and anxiety.
So, what do we mean by mindfulness practices? For the children in our classrooms, we focus on belly breathing, creating calm spaces and encouraging stress-reducing activities like blowing bubbles or playing with lavender-scented play-dough.
Belly breathing works with kids of all ages. It helps children calm down, learn to relax, improve their attention spans and lower their stress levels. While you can’t tell an infant to belly breathe, you can create a sense of calm through your own breathing. Our caregivers have found that matching the infant’s energy is important. A technique used in our classrooms involves placing a hand on the infant’s tummy while placing your other hand on your own tummy. Then take 10 deep breaths.
For toddlers, our caregivers encourage belly breathing with a favorite stuffed animal. It helps toddlers manage their emotions. As they get older, we practice guided meditation through storytelling and deep breathing.
Creating Calm Spaces
In every classroom, we have a designated calming corner. When a child needs a break or some time to calm down, the calming corner is set up with pillows, stuffed animals, books and other inviting items.
A simple way to help a child relax in the classroom is simply by blowing bubbles. Whether actively interacting or watching them float around, bubbles are a magical way to help kids enjoy the present moment.
A fun craft exercise we do is making rain sticks. The gentle sound created from turning the rain stick over helps kids relax. We also make our own play-dough filled with lavender or other soothing essential oils. Squeezing and forming the play-dough is a great stress reliever.
Creating Well-Rounded Children
We help prepare all Minnesotan children to thrive — creating a sense of belonging in the classroom while focusing on mindfulness so our children can learn coping skills for today’s stressors. Our early learning programs are NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)-accredited and Four-Star Parent Aware rated designed to build children’s social-emotional, cognitive, physical and cultural development. And, YWCA Minneapolis has been named one of the nation’s top 10 for “exemplary programs” for family engagement by NAEYC. Making a difference. That’s the difference.™ We look forward to teaching your child.