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More schools and tutors are teaching mindfulness techniques – here’s why!
Mindfulness does not immediately spring to mind when you think of the types of activities your children should be engaged in while at school. Be that as it may, there are many benefits to introducing mindfulness into the classroom, but are we really aware of the benefits it could have for your child and thus the urgent need for such a skill to form part of your child’s life?
There has been an increase in the number of young people being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The most recent survey by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that one in ten children aged between five and 16 years old has been clinically diagnosed with a mental disorder. So, in light of these facts, what can parents do to improve the situation? Can mindfulness in schools perhaps help young people be overall happier and more well-adjusted? We took a closer look at what mindfulness really is and what the benefits it holds for our young people.
The meaning of mindfulness
From the business world to the political realm and now the school environment; the practice of mindfulness is slowly creeping its way into every aspect of our lives and with good reason. Mindfulness is a pretty straightforward concept. It is about being fully aware of what is happening around you, of what is happening to you; your thoughts, feelings and emotions and being aware of the space you are moving through. For many this might be difficult to achieve at first, like anything in life, practice makes perfect. We live in a fast-paced world, where we find ourselves jumping from one task to the next, rushing through life without a moment to spare to consider the effects on our well-being. Although children may not have to worry about paying bills, work appraisals and the tax man; they are thrown into their own unique age-related whirlpool of family life, school and social life.
Mindfulness in the classroom
We know that schools are not just a place where children gain the necessary academic skills to succeed in life but also where they gain social skills and learn to deal with difficult situations. We know that as adults, those who succeed are not only those who gained academic knowledge but those who gained vital character traits such as self-awareness, self-esteem and regulation of their emotions. Although research into the effectiveness of teaching mindfulness to school children may be in its infancy, there is a consensus among researchers that there are many benefits to the practice. It is our hope that over the coming years, as more research and success stories are published that more schools are willing to come on board with mindfulness programmes and allow children to reap these benefits, affording them the opportunity to become more successful and well-rounded adults. Mindfulness is not yet available in all classrooms but you could implement it at home should you choose to do so as there is a considerable amount of resources available online.
During mindfulness exercises in classrooms, kids are asked to sit comfortably on the floor or at their desks. Then they are asked to close their eyes, place their hands gently on their laps and breathe. To really focus on breathing in and out and any sensations they may have in their bodies. If their minds wander they are encouraged to gently notice where it wanders to and then bring it back to their breathing and their bodies. The aim is to relax their bodies and minds. After the session is complete young people may share to discuss how they felt during the session if they wish to do so.
The benefits of mindfulness in the classroom
It is believed that there are a lot of benefits young people can gain from practising mindfulness regularly.
- Increased Attention: Studies have shown that young people who were taught mindfulness have increased levels of concentration and were able to pay attention for a longer period of time in the classroom. This, in turn, allows children to learn better and to retain the knowledge they have learnt. It teaches young people to regain there focus quickly if their minds were to wonder, allowing them to be more in control of the focus of their mind.
- A reprieve from Stress: Many children are dealing with an array of stress from both school and at home. Evidence has shown that mindfulness can help provide a reprieve from stress factors by allowing children the time to relax, be calm and unwind.
- Self-awareness: Mindfulness by definition is about self-awareness. Young people that practice mindfulness is more connected and aware of their own thought processes and reactions to the external world thus allowing them to regulate their emotions and behaviour both inside and outside of school. Young people can also be more aware of their behavioural patterns and improve on negative habitual behaviours. It is a time to disconnect from rigid routines and technology and to connect to themselves.
- Resilience: Mindfulness can help children become more resilient through coming to view the concerns or stresses they have more objectively by reducing the amount of personal blame or fault they place on themselves due to life’s everyday stress factors.
- Compassion: By practising mindfulness young people are made more aware of their own thoughts and emotions. They develop a better understanding of other people’s experience and feelings.
- Overall mental health improvement: With clinical diagnoses’ of mental health issues on the rise it is an ever-present worry for parents concerning their children. The practice of mindfulness in schools has shown to reduce anxiety symptoms, reduce depression and reduce fatigue in children.
It seems that there is not a lot of reasons to shy away from practising mindfulness. With more and more benefits of practising mindfulness being discovered all the time. Studies have shown a lot of positive outcomes for practising mindfulness.
If your child is between ages 11-16 and you’re interested in helping them achieve better grades and a great sense of well-being by getting them involved in our tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme please visit our GT Scholars website for more information.