In the United States, it’s estimated that about 10 million children have difficulties reading, according to a study by readingrockets.org. Helping these children learn is a top priority for many educational organizations, and there has been a fairly recent push for focusing on things that may cloud the brain causing the difficulties, rather than just practicing to overcome them.
In addition to causing troubles in understanding certain things that are being conveyed through text, child illiteracy also leads to things like bullying and feelings of isolation, which can lead to serious mental health issues like depression in adolescence, and issues finding employment in adulthood. One angle some experts are taking helps with any negative feelings about reading struggles while also helping clear the mind and motivate.
Mindfulness in the Classroom aims to help students stay more alert, aware, and focused on what is occurring in the moment, rather than other parts of their lives, either past or future. It helps with anxiety and reduces negativity, two things that often coincide with difficulty reading. Here are 5 exercises for students who struggle with reading or have trouble focusing on any other subjects in school.
5 Exercises for Students Who Struggle with Reading
Breathe In, Breath Out:
Focusing on your breathing is as in the moment as you can be, and taking deep breaths and focusing on each one allows racing thoughts to leave the brain. Teach kids to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Have them focus on the air filling their lungs while they breathe in, and stress leaving their body as they breathe out. They can do this before starting a task like reading to help with focus, and even in the middle of the task, can take 30 seconds to focus back on breathing if the mind starts to race. “Deep breathing is an important practice that helps students calm the mind and improve concentration. Learn more about calming breath exercises at The Joy Within.”
Remember the Senses:
Kids often don’t use all of their senses, and setting up exercises for them to focus on each one is good for clearing the mind. Tell them to focus on listening and tell you one thing they hadn’t heard before focusing. The same can be done for sight and smell, and using blindfolds and classroom items, touch as well.
Though there are some foods like fatty fish, nuts, and greens that can help with focus simply by eating them, every meal can be an exercise in mindfulness. Encourage kids to really pay attention to every aspect of the food. They can focus on the texture when it’s in their hands, and should take a moment to really take in the smell, and eat slowly, enjoying each bite and really dissecting each flavor tasted.
With many classes throughout the day, children often get overwhelmed by how many tasks they have to achieve in a given day. This can lead to a lack of focus during reading. Encouraging students to treat their schoolwork one task at a time helps clear the brain and can help focus on reading and comprehension.
Music and Audiobooks:
Listening to mindful music has been proven to reduce stress in people of all ages, and children can also benefit from the calming nature of music when they are experiencing a racing mind and having trouble focusing on reading. Reading along with audiobooks is also a great way to help with the actual reading while also doing something that has a calming and focusing effect on the brain.
Parts to a Whole:
Ultimately, helping children find focus and achieve their reading goals involves a lot more than just the things on this list, but with a focused and clear mind, practice, reading exercises, comprehension discussions, and more can all be achieved easier.
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