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Pros: Integrates daily meditation into a classroom routine and lets kids choose when and where they want to practice.
Cons: Creating an account requires a student or parent email address; has limited options for alternative learning needs.
Bottom Line: This easy-to-follow meditation program can help reduce stress and support social and emotional learning.
With regular use, kids can develop ways to refocus, cope with confrontations, and develop empathy. When students need a few minutes away from an escalating problem, offer Smiling Mind as a conflict resolution choice. Sitting with this app for five minutes provides time to stop, breathe, calm down, and handle problems more effectively. Young adults can also learn to manage school-related stress.
Take time to meditate with the app before class, or before an exam. Smiling Mind will complement any social and emotional learning program nicely. The developer's website is full of additional activities and resources kids and adults will both find valuable. For kids under the age of 13, an adult email will be required, making the app a bit harder to implement in some classrooms.
Smiling Mind is a great introduction to meditation. Simply locate a comfortable spot, plug in earphones, and press Play. Since kids practice privately, there's no need to worry about leading meditation circles full of nervous giggles (the app offers a chance to feel comfortable with meditation alone first). Each lesson is a sequential step toward learning how to meditate. A soothing Australian voice guides you through calming breathing exercises and visualizations. Most audio tracks last between two and 10 minutes, and kids can save their favorite sessions under their Favorites tab. Offline use is available, and teachers can download the programs or sessions, which allows students to listen to the sessions anywhere, anytime. Teachers and parents can also set a reminder notification to stay on track by practicing at least three times per week. As kids move forward, a history of progress is recorded.
Informed by youth psychologists, programs for each age range are sensitive to developmental needs. While a narrated "bubble journey" shows younger students how to breathe, young adults have access to suicide prevention resources. The programs vary in length, but there are plenty of extension activities.
Through Smiling Mind's guided meditation exercises, kids gain strategies to help them cope with stress and stay calm. With continued practice, these skills can last a lifetime. Although the app is self-guided, it's important to take time to reflect on individual progress and discuss the emotional impact of daily practice. The account setup procedures require additional time.
Smiling Mind is an Australian program; therefore, birth dates are entered with the day first and then the month. Emails are required for every account, including those of parents or guardians for kids age 7-13. Sub-accounts can be added for each member of the family, and potentially for the classroom. The app nicely targets the developmental needs of a wide age range, although navigating the account requirements make it best suited for ages 13 and up to operate independently.