GUEST POST BY TAMMIE PRINCE @Ed_Tmprince
The UK government document, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, outlines that one in ten children and young people has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder. It goes on to explain that one in seven children have a less severe mental health problem. A key point that is made is that in order for children to be successful, the school needs to play a role in the development of their resilience and mental health.
The development of mindfulness in the classroom arms our children with the needed life-long skills that support their current and future mental health and wellbeing.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be defined as the mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment while also accepting our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
We have all witnessed children exhibiting the signs of stress. They do not have the skills to cope with situations that seem to be beyond their control and show frustration in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is crying, temper tantrums and angry outbursts. Other times they are withdrawn, quiet and nonresponsive.
Mindfulness gives children the strategies to cope. Studies have shown that childhood mindfulness development has numerous positive benefits. Some include stress relief, mental focus, discovering life balance, deepening social skills, better sleep, greater self-esteem, emotion control, improved decision-making skills and development of mathematical skills.
Top 5 Beginner Mindfulness Strategies for Children
Deep, controlled breathing tricks the mind into thinking it is relaxed and is a simple strategy to use.
Begin each day with a combination of deep breathing and a positive mantra of the day or week.
While playing soft meditation music, have the children begin a simple deep breathing meditation. On the exhale they repeat the chosen mantra. Repeat at least five times.
Examples of possible mantras:
Help children to focus on the present moment by using a bell or musical triangle for this simple strategy.
Research shows that colouring allows the brain to relax and focus on one thing; colouring. 10 minutes of quiet colouring while soft meditative music plays in the background helps to slow the breathing to a calmer state, helps to relax the shoulders and brings peace to the moment. Research also shows that mindful colouring following the learning of a difficult skill or topic supports the retention of the lesson material.
A quick scan helps children bring awareness to how they are feeling without judgment and allows them to remove focus from what is causing stress.
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.