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How can mindfulness support early childhood educators?

a child care worker holding her head in her hands

Why do early childhood educators need support?

If you’re an early childhood educator, you probably already know the answer: Your job can be really stressful.

Recent data from ZERO TO THREE’s State of Babies Yearbook found that burnout was one of the top three reasons cited for turnover in early education programs.

But let’s break it down:

  • Your day is focused on the care of others, which means that you rarely get a break yourself—to plan, to eat without getting interrupted, to even use the bathroom!
  • The children in your care are still learning how to self-regulate and manage big feelings. While you know staying calm and centered helps them recover, that can be exhausting—especially in the face of intense behaviors. And responding consistently, with compassion, to the needs and feelings of young children isn’t easy.
  • You’re juggling adult relationships, too—busy families, administrators, and colleagues.
  • You’re a child’s first experience with learning environments—“school.” Their experience with you shapes their sense of learning as a positive, nurturing experience, or not. No pressure.

Did you know?

You can also teach mindfulness directly to children. And it works. Even with three-year-olds, as seen at the Child-Parent Centers in Tucson, Arizona.

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How can mindfulness help relieve ECE burnout?

About 40 years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn became one of the pioneers of mindfulness as a stress reducer. He described mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Slowing down and paying attention doesn’t come naturally to many people, nor does one of the key principles of mindfulness: replacing judgment with curiosity. But practicing mindfulness in non-stressful situations sets people up to remain calm(er) when the world becomes intense.

Key Findings

Studies show that mindfulness training that is specific, ongoing, and led by an expert has an impact on teachers in early childhood settings and on the children in their care.

  • improve staff morale
  • strengthen preschool teachers’ ability to manage emotional distress
  • and improve teachers’ sense of self-compassion, emotional regulation, and feelings of well-being
Mindfulness for Early Childhood Educators Download Now

Ready to give mindfulness a try?

We have a toolkit for that.

If you want to take a deep dive on mindfulness in early childhood, it has links to trainings and apps—everything you need to make mindfulness a part of your everyday life. If you prefer a lighter approach, it’s full of practical suggestions that you can use in your classroom, starting today.

The case for better compensation of early childhood educators.

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Caring For Yourself While You Care For Children
It might be hard to imagine fitting mindfulness into your busy routine. That’s why we recommend brief practices that can be used throughout the day to care for yourself and stay present with the children.