Is Mindfulness In The Classroom Necessary?

Primary schools are beginning to bring mindfulness to the classroom

Primary schools are beginning to bring mindfulness to the classroom. The movement wasn’t just a short buzz and it's beginning to make actual long-term improvements on people’s mental health.

In the UK, the Department for Education is currently funding a large project to find the best ways of promoting positive mental health in schools. It is doing this based on evidence from trials and one of the things they’re focusing in on is mindfulness.

It’s beginning to take off in Ireland too, with teachers incorporating it into the classroom and courses popping up to equip teachers and parents with the skills to practice mindfulness with young people.

Family Friendly HQ chatted to Mary Telford, the Director of Education  of John Scottus in their Old Conna primary school about how it works for the students
“What you notice with primary school children is it definitely enhances their natural joy in living,” Mary explained. 
Continuing, Mary said that when you keep practicing being in the moment, provide plenty of time outdoors, good food and incorporate philosophy classes for the children to reference back to for difficult situations, you get a balanced person which helps them learn.
“It definitely helps them to focus” said Mary. She also said she has noticed more and more schools are taking part in a mindfulness approach to learning
People like Julieanne Reel from Mindful Kids Ireland and Clodagh McCarthy from Brightsparks Coaching are leading the way in bringing mindfulness to the classroom through classes and workshops.

So, why exactly is it taking off? Mindfulness is the practice of taking time to sit and relax for a small amount of time. The idea is to sit for about 10 minutes to start off, and not to think about the future or anything that has already happened. To just be in the present moment, listen to your breathing and keep your mind clear.

It has been shown to help people cope with stress and benefit those suffering from depression and anxiety. Primary school teacher Anita Fennelly was interviewed by the Irish Times and said that she felt mindfulness gave her students coping skills and helped improve their focus.
There are a few ways that you can practice mindfulness with your own kids, see if any of them work for you.
1. Talk. Try talking to your kids about how they’re feeling that day, without asking any leading questions.
2. Have your kids practice a mindful check in to tune into how they are feeling, maybe get them to write it down.
3. Try the meditative technique of sitting quietly, not thinking about anything but just noticing your surroundings and focusing on your breathing.
4. Make a worry box for kids to write down any worries they have, they can discuss it with you if they want to clear their mind.
5. Have a chill out space. A relaxed corner of the house with cushions and a blanket where they can go to calm down and de-stress
The way your child learns how to cope with stress can impact how they work in the future and deal with situations.
The My World Survey by UCD and Headstrong found that depression and anxiety increased gradually from 1st to 6th years and it was a similar pattern to how much stress the students felt.
Mindfulness is one of many ways of equipping your child to deal with stress later in life.
Written by Róise McGagh, Intern at Family Friendly HQ; follow her on Twitter @roisemcgagh 

Róise McGagh

Róise is a contributor to Family Friendly HQ.

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