“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.”– Jon Kabat-Zinn
Earlier this month we talked about building a sense of responsibility and independence in children. In this blog we look at the growing level of mindfulness and awareness that happens in the Kinderpillar program.
During the Kinderpillar years, children are becoming aware of how their actions affect themselves and others. “Every action has a reaction” becomes vividly real at this age. This concept of cause and effect is one of the key components Kinderpillar students are learning about behaving responsibly. For example, when a child knocks down someone’s block building he knows it is upsetting for his friend and realizes he needs to be more careful and help put it back together!
“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise you may step on a piece of forest that was left out by mistake.” – Winnie the Pooh
At this stage of development, children begin to see beyond their personal boundaries, develop a broader view of life and the world, and understand the effect their actions have on those around them. This is essential for developing mindfulness.Take a moment to think about the process of being mindful. What does being mindful mean to you? Perhaps it is the way you treat people or how you navigate your world. But what is it to your young Kinderpillar child? For your young child, being mindful may mean:
- taking care of himself and his things
- being aware of the effect his actions have on others
- demonstrating a progressive level of self-control
- having an awareness of personal limitations and self reliance
- being trusted to make certain decisions for himself and others, such as knowing how to share and care for classroom supplies
- being truthful about his actions
Kinderpillar children learn responsibility in stages. Like the concentric circles that spiral from a drop of water in a calm sea, young children grow in ever-expanding circles of awareness, starting with themselves at the center and moving out toward the world at large. First, children develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their property. This is the stage when they realize it is important to remember where they put their backpack or to put the tops back on their markers. Next, children begin to see how responsibility expands to their family, friends, and classroom. Saying “I’m sorry” for hurting someone or breaking something is one example of this stage of development.
As they expand their concept of mindful awareness, Kinderpillar children also develop an awareness of their responsibility as it applies to nature and the environment. This can be demonstrated by a desire to clean up the playground, plant a garden or to refrain from killing insects.
Remember, the goal in teaching mindfulness is not just for children to be able to follow your directions or “do what they are told” but to help them develop self-control and a sense of values that will enable them to make good choices throughout their lives.