Mindfulness Practices for Children with Learning Differences

Learning differences are more common than we may think. Around one in five children in the US face various learning differences like ADHD or dyslexia. Not to mention, many go undiagnosed until adulthood.

If you're wondering how to support students with learning differences in the classroom, consider exploring mindfulness practices. These activities can help kids find calm during their academic pursuits and return to their tasks when ready.

See how mindfulness practices can empower students to improve focus, reduce worries, and make progress.

Understanding Mindfulness

Before engaging in these activities, it's helpful to understand mindfulness. What exactly does it mean to stay mindful, and what are the benefits of doing so?

Mindfulness is the practice of staying openly attentive to the present. Instead of focusing on the future or the past, you stay in the moment and consider your current surroundings.

There are two key parts to mindfulness: awareness and acceptance. You must first stay aware of your inner thoughts and experiences. Then, you can accept those thoughts and figure out how to deal with them instead of getting overwhelmed.

Practicing mindfulness is especially important for children and teens struggling in school. They are often prone to bouts of anxiety and depression due to peer pressures and their hormones.

General Benefits

Mindfulness is a part of various practices such as meditation and therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy. Some benefits you can expect include lower stress levels and fewer harmful thoughts. You can also expect it to aid against depression and anxiety caused by negative thinking.

One area in particular that mindfulness can help with is executive dysfunction. This is when a person struggles to manage their thoughts and actions. It commonly presents itself as a difficulty starting or completing tasks.

By staying mindful, a person can break down a large task into smaller parts that are easier to digest and complete.

For example, a student may struggle to begin their research project. Instead of looking at it as one huge thing to do, they can start on the little pieces that make up the whole. Looking up relevant articles, writing an outline first, or copying down quotes, for instance, can help them get started.

Mindfulness for Children With LD and ADHD

While mindfulness is recommended for people of all ages, it can prove incredibly effective for children with learning differences and ADHD. Adolescence is a time of great stress and emotional instability, as it is. It becomes even more difficult when a student struggles in the classroom among their peers.

Calming Anxieties

One of the biggest obstacles for children with learning disabilities isn't the disability itself. What actually holds them back is their inability to calm themselves when facing a challenge. Unfortunately, students with learning disabilities have the potential to face more challenges than many of their peers do.

By practicing mindfulness, they can put to work some of the coping skills they have developed. They may want to ask for help if they need it. Meanwhile, their teacher can help to establish a routine for them and offer positive reinforcement.

Diversity of Practices

Teachers can implement various classroom practices to create a mindful environment, helping students deal with their stress.

For example, create a time slot every day to allow for ten to fifteen minutes of meditation. Parents may also want to reach out to their student’s teacher to learn more about what might work at home versus school, and vice versa.

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Scientific Backing

Numerous scientific studies have researched the effects of mindfulness. Many of them have reported that individuals who practice mindfulness have experienced improved sleep quality, less fatigue, and less depression.

Other studies show that mindfulness can positively affect a person's heart health. This result is partly due to lowered blood pressure from less stress. In addition, a more active lifestyle may result from more positive thinking.

Finally, training one’s brain to deal with negative thinking more effectively will improve the ability to handle stress in the future.

Identifying Anxiety Early

What's most important is to identify anxiety as early as possible so you can prevent your students from falling behind their peers.

Something like stress over difficulty reading or doing math problems can completely ruin their confidence. They won't put in as much effort, and that stress will present itself in other parts of their lives.

Instead, it's better to teach your students that stress and anxiety are completely normal feelings. They should also know that it's okay to reach out for help.

Mindfulness Activities for Children

How you approach mindfulness in both the classroom and at home will vary from child to child. Some of them benefit from solo activities, such as silent meditation. Others may prefer group activities, such as listening to music.

Whole-body listening is a good practice for students who have trouble keeping still. This practice teaches them to give different parts of their bodies a specific job while their eyes and ears focus on the lesson.

There are meditation apps available for both smartphones and tablets that can help. These come in options for children of all ages. Teens and tweens may especially benefit from journaling apps.

Parents and teachers can find plenty of additional online resources that can help when practicing mindfulness with kids. It may also be worth talking with your school's guidance counselor about how they approach issues one-on-one.

Learn More About How to Help Students With Learning Differences in the Classroom

Learning differences can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety in a student of any age, but there are certainly many healthy ways to manage them. It's not about punishing them for stepping out of line. Instead, you teach them to be mindful of their behaviors and thoughts.

Eagle Hill School can teach your child the skills to succeed independently and confidently. We specialize in managing language-based learning differences and providing a complete education. Schedule a call with us today to learn more about our curriculum.

Topics: Learning Differences