“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon
Each one of us want our children to be happy, and while this is traditionally thought of as a homebound concern, everyone sends their kids to school with the hope that they will have an emotionally enriched and balanced life.
Unfortunately, the competitive atmosphere in schools has created a different definition of positive classrooms for many educators. For most, positive classrooms have come to mean places where students arrive at school ready to learn, work hard, go home, complete the homework, and return to school the next day to learn some more. Often, teachers are so focused on ensuring that students pass achievement tests, that they have little or no time to address the social and emotional needs of these young and curious souls. On the brighter side though, some educators are beginning to realize that overlooking the overall well-being of the students is a huge mistake. It definitely does not take rocket science to understand that happy children are likely to be less distracted and are more willing to learn . Here are a few simple ways to cultivate happiness in classrooms and schools:
1. Slow Down
When we slow down, we notice more, we appreciate relationships, learning, and goals. Everyone can benefit from slowing down, and that includes students and teachers too. In the classroom, this would translate into spending more time during the morning meet-up session, or taking those extra 10 minutes to engage kids with a fun activity or game prior to starting a ‘serious’ lesson in the class.
2. Going Out
Being outside, even for just a few minutes a day can heighten our state of well-being. We breathe fresh air, feel the natural elements — the warmth of the sun, the wind, the moisture of rain, all of which helps us introspect. Even if it’s cold outside, we can take our students for a quick walk, or indulge in silent reading sessions amidst natural surroundings, for example-parks, or sprawling gardens.
3. Move Your Body
Moving bodies=happy minds! Even if you can’t take your kids outside, you can incorporate activities into play sessions. For example, you could use popular, age appropriate music to break the monotony. Through this, happy endorphins are bound to rise, which ultimately leads to attentive minds, ears, and hearts.
Singing requires us to breathe deeply, and this in turn makes us happy.If you teach elementary school, then it’s easy to get your kids singing everyday. In fact, you could start the day with a simple and fun song! Find songs that connect with what you are teaching, as this will help kids have better recall with their academic lessons.
Try smiling more often, but aim for authentic, genuine smiles. However, if you are more of a ‘serious’ type, then go ahead and fake it. Fake smiles too can help you move along, and can have a positive impact on those who interact with you.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a happy, jovial environment for the kids at school, but to start with some simple and actionable ideas is the best way. Try them, share them and let us know if you have different methods, which work for you.
If you are seeking instant inspiration and happiness, you can also read our blog on How to Create a Happier World Together.