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 towards learning how to meditate. A soothing Australian voice guides you through calming breathing exercises and visualizations. Each audio track lasts between five and 15 minutes. As kids move forward, they unlock badges and a history of progress is recorded. Informed by youth psychologists, each age range is sensitive to developmental needs. While a narrated “bubble journey” shows the younger set how to breathe, young adults have access to suicide prevention resources. The program only runs for 10 weeks, 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, this skill 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 set-up procedures require additional time. Smiling Mind is an Australian program; therefore, birth dates are entered with the day first and then month. Emails are required for every account including those of parents or guardians for the 7–11 year old group. It's assumed that kids age 12-15 already have their own email accounts. Facebook and Twitter are fully integrated and can't be disabled. Although the app nicely targets the developmental needs of a wide age range, the social network sharing and account requirements make it best suited for ages 13 and up.
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 learn to manage school-related stress. Take time to meditate with the app before class, or before an exam. Smiling Mind will nicely compliment any social and emotional learning program. The developer's website is full of additional activities and resources kids and adults will both find valuable.