Mindful moments in your classroom part 4: drawing/coloring
This is the fourth post in a series on how to bring mindful moments into your classroom and today we look at mindful coloring. Please see this post for the first step towards introducing mindful moments (meditation), this post for the second (reading), and this post for the third (writing).
As I mentioned in all of my previous mindfulness posts, I am not a mindfulness expert. I do not have a special certification in mindful teaching, but I do have 14 years of experience teaching students who struggle with trauma, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and mood disorders. Additionally, not all of the activities I share with my students are specifically mindfulness techniques, but they have all been scientifically proven to help reduce anxiety and stress, and improve quality of life.
Today we are going to look at coloring/drawing to reduce stress. Just like meditating/reading/writing, if a student finds coloring particularly difficult or anxiety producing then coloring will likely not be their top choice of a Zen Time activity, but I do ask that all students try coloring on the day that I introduce it.
As with meditation , reading, and writing I like to share some research to support coloring as a relaxation technique. I share with students the Journal of Applied School Psychology study which shows that coloring reduces stress in both male and female students prior to a test. I also share results from the Creativity Research Journal’s article Sharpen Your Pencils: Preliminary Evidence that Adult Coloring Reduces Depressive Symptoms and Anxiety with the understanding that coloring is not a relaxation technique that they need to let go of when they graduate or become an “adult” (even though most of my students are 17-18 and are already “adults”) It is a stress relief technique that can be used at any age.
I give students several options.
They can have a blank sheet of computer paper and free draw. They can bring in their own coloring or drawing materials. Or they can use a pre-printed coloring sheet that I provide. Most of them choose the coloring sheet. I have three boxes of crayons, colored pencils, and markers that I place around the room for students to pull from. Then I set the timer for ten minutes and we color.
During these ten minutes there is no talking and no electronics.
When my timer goes off at the end of ten minutes I often have a hard time pulling them away from their coloring sheets, but as I mentioned in post two (and will remind of you of again and again) one of the most important aspects of the mindful practice is the debrief.
Make sure to talk to your students about how it felt to try coloring for relaxation. Ask what they struggled with or what went well.
Make sure to ask how they feel after trying it. Just TALK ABOUT it. Maybe share what you colored and how it made you feel. Some students who struggle with coloring may find it more frustrating than relaxing and that is totally ok. They will find another one of the Zen Time techniques that feels right to them as you introduce them.
My next post will walk you through how to use yoga for relaxation during Zen Time. After you’ve worked through each of the strategies, your ultimate goal is to be able to provide 10 minutes each class period for students (and you) to use a technique in order to clear your minds, decrease stress levels, and help you all be more prepared for academics (and life in general).