Mindfulness in Schools

A child’s world appears to be more complex and challenging than ever before. Research appears to indicate that stress and anxiety levels in children are increasing year on year, while the impact of electronic distractions, including social media, have been directly linked to an array of problems including poor relationship issues and low self-esteem. A child’s mind can become a ‘battleground’ overloaded with almost continuous stimulation leading to mental fatigue, a lack of sleep and difficulty in paying attention. 

The child in front of you, as you mark the register, may be physically present but I wonder how often their minds are? 

Why introduce Mindfulness in schools?

Mindfulness is increasingly being brought into schools as it teaches the skills involved in paying attention and being aware, thereby supporting the learning process through:
Improving focus and concentration
Improving memory
Improving mental clarity
Improving relationships
Improving physical health
Improving mental health

Mindfulness is also strongly associated with the act of kindliness to both oneself and others and as such can help the development and maintenance of better relationships. The mindfulness approach has also been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and in building mental resilience. It is a life skill. 

These claims are supported by a range of clinical investigations* which indicate that mindfulness can bring about significant improvements in both physical and mental health. Increasingly, research is being directed towards the impact of mindfulness upon the developing child’s mind and body. It is clear, however, that mindfulness enhances learning, and emotional intelligence; children tend to become kinder to themselves and others, more confident and less judgemental. Mindfulness also helps to support the developing brain from the harmful effects of stress. 

*Weare, K.W. (April 2012). Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People. The Mindfulness in Schools Project in association with University of Exeter. Mood Disorders Centre.

It is recommended that mindfulness is taught by an experienced practitioner who not only has a robust practice themselves but is also familiar with teaching children these skills. This approach is recognised as the best method of introducing mindfulness to children. We agree with this and encourage it wherever possible. 
It is clear, however, that the number of qualified mindfulness teachers is a limiting factor in introducing these skills more widely into schools and children, as a result, are missing key opportunities to acquire the many benefits offered. 

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