The pandemic has impacted on us all and none more so than our children, staff and families. We wanted to develop an area of calm, space and relaxation where we could go just have time to think, to be quiet or to listen to calming music, feel at peace with ourselves and be in the present. We wanted to create a very different experience for our children. We discussed many ideas and decided to introduce our very own Kidzrus Zen Den. Zen Dens are used as a meditation room or a space to practice yoga with an open floor plan away from too much activity used to “unwind” sit back and relax away from everyday pressures. We chose neutral colours from the paint on the walls to the lights using soft tones to lift the mood and inspire creativity.
Since returning to nursery after the unprecedented lock down we have found that children are extremely active and can become overwhelmed quite easily with so many finding the busy environment over stimulating at times. Some children haven’t been around other children for over 18 months so we decided it was time to reevaluate and introduce Kidzrus Zen Den. The Zen Den has also been a great stimulant for new children and a refreshing change to help children to settle and adapt to nursery life, especially in smaller numbers, where by children have the opportunity to explore such a different environment that they may never have done elsewhere.
The zen room provides practitioners and children with a space to participate in quiet calming activities such as mindfulness, yoga and zen activities.
Due to the lockdown children have had no contact with grandparents, no play dates and the wearing of face coverings have left children less exposed to conversations and everyday experiences all this has impacted on children’s language skills. Kidzrus Zen Den will also be used to focus on raising communication and language skills including extending children’s vocabulary. Parents have shown a keen interest in our Zen Den and we have plans to extend sessions to include parents and children together.
What does Zen mean? Zen is a Japanese word translated from the Chinese word Chán, which means “meditation”. Zen uses meditation to help practitioners go beyond simply thinking about Zen. The goal in Zen is to attain satori. This Japanese word translates as “enlightenment”.
At Kidzrus we are proud to have practitioners who have a particular interest in “Mindfulness and meditation” but how can this help our children, staff and families and what are we hoping to achieve? By creating a calm and soothing environment will help staff and children relax and participate on a regular basis.
Setting aside time for formal meditation is an important way to establish a routine and get comfortable with the practice. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference. Meditation is simple practice available to all and can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness.
Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness, the simple practice of bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. We aim to offer activities that develop compassion, focus, curiosity and empathy. And remember, mindfulness can be fun.
What Is Mindfulness, and Why Do Children Need It?
From our earliest moments, mindfulness can help minimize anxiety and increase happiness.
Don’t make mindfulness and meditation seem like something only to be used in times of trouble — present it as a tool to be used in a variety of situations.
As children develop into early childhood, they become capable not only of practicing mindfulness with the guidance of a parent or practitioner, but also of retaining some of these skills and turning to them in times of need. Evidence suggests that as a child reaches four years they are able to learn skills that they can utilize by themselves.
To instill these habits in children, practice is key. Don’t make mindfulness and meditation something that is turned to only in times of stress. Instead, make mindfulness exercises a regular part of the daily routine, an activity in and of itself, just like reading, playing outside or doing arts and crafts. And rather than making mindfulness seem as if it is only as an antidote to irritating situations, present it as a tool that can help children explore new sensations, including those that are pleasant, neutral and unfamiliar.
Use it in other ways as a tool to explore kindness and curiosity. Ask children what they feel and how they feel? At Kidzrus we are introducing meditation sessions and although children may not have any concept of what we’re doing when we meditate they’re mimicking our behavior and they become interested.
Mindfulness with young children enables them to discover language, gain control over their bodies and begin to exert their independence. Yet even at this young age, toddlers can begin to experience and understand mindfulness. When toddlers are in a good mood, mindfulness exercises can help them become more familiar with the sensations of happiness and gratitude. And when they get upset, mindfulness can help toddlers move on from the fleeting experiences that might have made them cry, and instead focus their attention on new, less upsetting sensations. This shift moves their attention away from whatever it is they’re worrying about, to a present moment experience such as the feeling of their own breath, very simple skills to adopt. We can all learn from these sessions some simple ideas to help are;
- Don’t look at digital devices too often when children are around.
- Spend time doing activities that promote focus, creativity and inquiry — such as reading, art and having conversations — rather than watching a lot of TV and other electronic devices.
- Always treat people kindly, even when you are frustrated and upset.
- And express gratitude for the things in your life you feel thankful for.
- Respect and listen to other people
We are phenomenally distracted so often by our phones and other devices that we’re often not aware and we are demonstrating those habits to our children. A prerequisite for cultivating mindfulness is looking at our habits of distraction and working to change those.
Breathing exercises can be helpful in many ways.
In addition, getting to know our bodies is an essential part of mindfulness practice. This starts with our breath, breathing exercises can help you become more familiar with the rhythms of your body.
We’re super excited to do lots of new relaxing activities and involve our children, staff and parents in a number of wonderful experiences.