Chanting with Kids: Benefits, Examples, and How to Get Started

In her book The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Cynthia Bourgeault tells the story of a group of monks who chanted together daily.

One day a new abbot decided that the monks should replace chanting with other tasks he deemed more important. Soon enough, the monks fell into a state of depression and lethargy, such that the abbot was eventually advised by a doctor to reinstate the chanting. As soon as he did, the monks’ mood lifted and the lethargy went away.

Even though chanting seemed trivial to the abbot, it had an enormous benefit in the lives of the monks. “Chanting is at the heart of all sacred traditions worldwide, and for very good reasons,” concludes Bourgeault. “What meditation accomplishes in silence, chanting accomplishes in sound.”

In a similar way, chanting can also benefit kids.

As the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Chanting is often the most direct and immediate way to reconnect us with … the deepest place in ourselves, the place where we are most awake and alive.” Chanting with kids helps them connect to this deep part of themselves and beyond themselves.

Emerging studies illustrate additional benefits. For instance, one analysis demonstrated positive physical changes in the body during and after chanting. “Compared to the resting state,” it reads, “religious chanting increases the stability of cardiac activity, reflecting enhanced stability in the regulation of cardiovascular tone and the parasympathetic modulation of cardiac function. Such physiological changes illustrate the mechanisms through which relaxing meditative practices exert positive stress-reducing effects.”

Another study analyzed blood pressure, pulse rate, anxiety levels, depression levels, and more, finding that the test group who participated in a chanting exercise over six months saw a “significant decrease in depression, anxiety, and test scores.”

Benefits of Chanting With Kids

  • Decreases depression
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces stress
  • Connects us to self and other

You can test these benefits in your personal life. Make a habit of chanting with your kids each day over a set period of time, whether a week or a month. If you experience these benefits, keep it up! If not, there are many other wisdom practices to explore in our lesson library.

Examples of Chants To Do With Kids

We’ve recorded examples of chanting for our lesson on singing (for members).

Here are three examples of our recordings.

All Shall Be Well

This chant is based on a quote from the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Singer: Jess Salmon

Breathing In, Breathing Out

This song comes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Buddhist tradition and has components of a chant with the repetition of “breathing in, breathing out.”

Breathing in, breathing out.
Breathing in, breathing out.
I am blooming as a flower.
I am fresh as the dew.
I am solid as a mountain.
I am fresh as the earth.
I am free.

Breathing in, breathing out.
Breathing in, breathing out.
I am water reflecting
What is real, what is true.
And I feel there is space
Deep inside of me.
I am free.
I am free.
I am free.

Singer: Lon Young, Plum Village practitioner

Open My Heart

“Open My Heart” is a simple chant that can help kids be more willing to feel their emotions and practice heart knowing. The lyrics are as simple as possible: “open my heart.” It can be sung in rounds, as demonstrated here.

Singer: Jess Salmon

To experience more chants, check out our lesson on singing.

Are there any chants you would like to see us add? Let us know! If we find that this collection is helpful, we hope to create a library of chants for families and kids.

For instance, check out this mantra playlist from Beautiful Chorus.