Improving well-being in teaching and learning through mindful awareness ‘Just breath’
Scenario 1: Imagine a group of nine-year olds entering the class room after break time. The boys are still over-excited about a football match and eagerly discuss the match in the class room. The girls enter the room as they are talking about an up-coming play date at the weekend. Scenario 2: Imagine twenty children from Reception coming to the class room after lunch . Some are tired, some are still annoyed about their friends not playing with them at lunch time, some are worried about the dirt on their clothes and some are eagerly asking what we will learn today. How do you get all these different students to focus and ready to learn?
Mindfulness practice: Body scan being aware of how we feel physically and emotionally Body scan: Close your eyes, become aware of you breath and relax. Follow the voice prompts.
Myths about mindfulness There are many myths and misconceptions about mindfulness. • Mindfulness is based on religion Mindfulness is not a religious practice. It is a secular practice. • Mindfulness is just about relaxing Mindfulness is not simply peace or bliss (although relaxation is a commonly experienced by-product). • Mindfulness is about emptying the mind and not thinking Mindfulness is about being aware of thoughts, not getting rid of them. • Mindfulness focuses only on positive emotions Mindfulness is not about feeling happy all the time. It is an awareness about what is going on in the present moment without judging what is going on. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a2f40a41f318d38ccf0c819/t/5b28988170a6ad07781beeb9/1529387171804/smiling-mind-mindfulness-guidelines-for-schools-whitepaper.pdf
Mindfulness is a secular (non-religious) practice. • “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without any judgment.” • (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2013 /founding father of secular mindfulness) • The Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP, 2019) describes mindfulness as a way to train our awareness to what is happening in present moment including our breath, physical sensations, thoughts, emotions and everyday activities such as eating and walking. Through this awareness, we are better prepared to respond to what is happening in the now and can choose our response.
What do children say in Ambrosoli? Ninja: you get calm … you don’t think about very much, you just relax, your mind doesn’t have so many thoughts. Drift: … when you are very tired or angry and then you listen to some relaxing music and you just sit down … it helps you calm down ... Dolphine: … being creative, calm and being aware. Zia: … being thoughtful about our environment and thinking about other people.
Mindful pictures Drift : I chose … white, dark green, light green and purple because they are peaceful and mindful and I drew this circle because it is half black and half white … I drew all these circles because everything is united. Ninja: I drew this guy meditating and wrote that your mind is only thinking about the present, not things that are going to happen and you focus on one thing.
Stress factors for kids: • Stressin school - workload, not having friends, a friend who has left, bullying • Stress in the family - parental separation, remarriage (blended family), financial problems, parental stress, illness, unreasonably high family expectations and death in the family • Media stress and environmental dangers - Some children can become worried about things they hear and see on the news or by a generalized fear of strangers and the future as well as the overuse of technical devises and video games.
Stress and the brain • Long-lasting and intense stress has been linked to a smaller memory centre in a child’s brain • Children who are stressed perform less well in school • Childhood stress can take away years of a persons life • Prolonged stress can cause long-term damage to the developing brain, and can negativelyaffect the immune system
The key to release stress is to create new neural pathways in the brain(to help us relax and focus on the task at hand). Our brain is a muscle which can be trained to be mindful.
Benefits include: lower stress and anxiety levels, enhanced focus and attention, improved self-regulation,a higher level of creative thinking, improvements to the immune system, increased resilience and confidenceand it can influence academic performance
How does ‘mindfulness’ fit in the curriculum at Ambrosoli ? The ‘Learning and Teaching Policy’ of AMIS states that “effective learning happens when the learning environment is safe, positive and calm” (Policy, 2018/19). Our PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) curriculum provides teachers with the opportunity to develop core values in students’ such as adaptability, resilience and enquiry (IPC, 2019). We use JIGSAW (2019) as part of the PHSE curriculum which emphasizes on “emotional literacy, social skills and spiritual development as a whole school approach”. Mindfulness lessons play an important part in this program.
The impact of using mindfulness in the classroom (evidence from my research) Mindfulness is key to relaxation people so start meditation yeah Never let anybody stop you from your dream
Drawings: Before and after mindfulness Drift: Before the mindfulness, on a Thursday after break, I was feeling really excited and energetic … I am running around with my hands sticking out of my back and these two random people are shouting at me “Stop running! Stop!” My birthday was really close … Afterthe mindfulness I felt calmer. I was still very excited, but I didn’t feel like jumping up and down and running …
Drawings: Before and after mindfulness • Dolphine: First, I drew closed eyes as I was feeling sleepy and not getting what I was supposed to do and in my after picture I was more awake, ready and focused and I drew open eyes.
Drawings: Before and after mindfulness • Ninja: In the before picture (after break on a Thursday) I felt crazy and I wanted to run about. I had loads of energy. After we did the mindfulness activity … I just felt really calm … all of the energy was still there, but I didn’t feel I had to use it as much… I put loads of clouds because I find them calming and I put these guys being mindful.
Mindful exercises What can you do in at home?
Exercises: 1. Meditation exercises - Mindful breathing: Sit together with your child and watch the sensation of the breath. How does it feel when you breath in and how does it feel breathing in and out? (1 – 5 min) 2. Colouring - Give children time to draw and colour an image and watch how focused they are. 3. Mindful jar - Fill a glass jar with water and put some glitter in it, close it and shake it. Explain to children when our mind is angry, scared or just overwhelmed the glitter is everywhere. Then put the jar down and see how the glitter slowly settles. It is the same with our mind when we sit and breath our mind settles. 4. Being grateful - Create a box or treasure chest and put together notes inside with things they are grateful for today. 5. Mindful walking - Take children for a walk around. Tell them to pay close attention to all the things they see and they take notes. 6. Put away technology - Put away your phone, your child’s tab, switch of the TV and just talk about the day.
Useful websites: • Centre of Excellence Diploma in Mindfulness for Children https://www.centreofexcellence.com/learning-centre/ • Exercises https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/ https://annakaharris.com/mindfulness-for-children/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk_qU7l-fcU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A39rcGyBMdk • Mindfulness in schools https://www.mindfulschools.org/ • Youtube videos on mindfulness in schools https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mlk6xD_xAQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yJPcdiLEkI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_hPelcPRTg
for listening! Any questions or suggestions
Mindful eating Please take a grape and touch it, look at it, smell it, listen to it and eat it with awareness. Enjoy! .