Using Mindfulness in School to Manage ADHD

At Sunrise, we either start or finish each class period with a mindfulness activity.  This activity can take a variety of forms:  such as a short session of meditation, mindfully listening to various calming sounds, mindfully looking at a picture, or even mindfully feeling kinetic sand.  While using mindfulness in school has been extremely successful in helping with a variety of conditions, I have especially seen it help with ADHD.

Benefits of Using Mindfulness in School:

  1. Developing better awareness of attention and learning to be less distracted.
  2. Learning to take a step back and observe one’s thoughts and feelings so they don’t drive our sense of self or understanding of our life.
  3. Managing stress better by reacting less emotionally, and filling your resource pool, ie. your “tank” of energy or ability to self-regulate.
  4. Becoming aware of when to be self-compassionate about ADHD symptoms. Knowing when to change unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling, or acting.

Due to mindfulness activities, I have seen all four of these areas improve for students with ADHD. I have noticed that they become far more aware of how they think. In doing so, students are able to work with teachers on how they can make the classroom environment “work” for them.  As a next step, they are able to advocate exactly what they need in order to be more successful.

I have also noticed students handle major projects better.  Large projects usually are a great source of stress and anxiety for students with ADHD, because they require organization and time management.  By using mindfulness my students have been able to detach and observe their thoughts and feelings, and then break down the assignments into manageable “chunks”.

Mindfulness Also Helps Teachers

Lastly, I have noticed that our mindfulness practices also help teachers, especially myself.  I was diagnosed with ADHD in the mid-1970’s, before it was even called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  As a teacher, the classroom can be a very distracting environment.  Mindfulness has allowed me to be more aware of how I am thinking in the moment. It enables me to realize when I am being distracted, so I am then able to refocus.  With practice, I have been able to do this almost automatically.  Mindfulness has also helped me with handling the stress that can sometimes come with teaching.  It has been a great way to take a quick mental break and fill up my resource pool.

Mindfulness has been very successful in helping our students with ADHD here at Sunrise.  As we continue to implement these practices in the classroom, I look forward to seeing our students become more and more academically successful.

Resources:

Sarkis Ph.D., Stephanie.  “ADHD & Mindfulness:  An Interview with Lidia Zylowska MD”Psychologytoday.com. 2012.