Dept for Education: Guidance on physical health and mental wellbeing
(Primary and secondary) Updated 9 July 2020
“It is important for schools to promote pupils’ self-control and ability to self-regulate, and strategies for doing so. This will enable them to become confident in their ability to achieve well and persevere even when they encounter setbacks or when their goals are distant, and to respond calmly and rationally to setbacks and challenges. This integrated, whole-school approach to the teaching and promotion of health and wellbeing has a potential positive impact on behaviour and attainment.”
We do this by linking a greater awareness of thoughts and emotions, with the invitation to take a mindful pause. Children are taught the skill of grounding their attention in the felt sensations of the body whether in the feet or the hands or by using one of the other techniques introduced to the children during the weekly sessions.
Later, we introduce the children to a modified version of Dan Siegel’s hand model of the brain, to help them understand what is happening to them in both their body and brain as they experience the natural stress response.
Children learn simple hand signals which reflect their state of mind and these hand signals once learnt by children and staff can act as a signal to others that the child needs the opportunity to pause and maybe practise a mindfulness technique to help calm themselves before deciding how best to respond.
With practice it is hoped that children will begin to notice habitual patterns of potentially damaging reactive behaviour and begin to choose to engage a mindfulness tool of their choice so they might decide to respond in a way that is more beneficial to themselves and to those around them.
By placing our awareness in the sensory environment of the body mindfulness we can learn to step away from the emotional turmoil and heated environment of the mind and help to create a natural pause…a gap which may then allow the mind the time it needs to settle.
It is important to state, however, that in any mindfulness practice there is no expectation of any outcome whatsoever and as a result no need to judge whether a particular practise has been a success or failure. Indeed, there is not even an expectation of relaxation.
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