mindfulness in schools
The start of a new year at primary school can stir up lots of emotions for children, including excitement and anticipation as well as nervousness and anxiety. Of course, it is completely normal to feel this range of emotions and everyone feels a bit of apprehension at the start of the school year (even teachers!)
That we should be investing early in the lives of our children is for me, a no-brainer! It's a fundamental given in helping them to grow-up to become independent, vital, creative, collaborative, resilient, resourceful, productive and happy adults.
The programmes underway in Réunion are gaining interest from other schools and teachers, as well as from community leaders. It's clear how much difference a handful of people can make to get a movement started.
Half of mental health disorders have their onset before age 15, and there is growing evidence that the teenage brain undergoes significant change. This time of heightened brain plasticity offers a valuable opportunity to try and foster resilience and potentially prevent the onset of mental illness.
Mindfulness is not enough on its own; it is no silver bullet. Schools are complex places and people more complex still - teachers, pupils and parents alike. Mindfulness must be part of a broader pastoral net, not only in terms of social and emotional learning, but also child protection.
An hour teaching teenagers who don't want to be there something they don't want to learn is never pleasant... A few things tend to raise their curiosity: that they can physically change their brain; that mindfulness is used by top sportsmen and musicians; that it might help with their exams or, at the very least, help them worry less about their exams.
Most of us in the UK have an idea of what an American summer camp is like: swimming, hi- jinks, Patrick Swayze in 'Dirty Dancing'. So when I was approached to teach Mindfulness in Schools Project's '.b' at a family camp in New Hampshire this August, I was intrigued... How would the two experiences mix together?
Why is it called .b? The red 'dot' of the logo stands for STOP - like a red light. And the 'b' is saying BE. So .b is inviting those in schools - toddlers, teens and teachers alike, to 'stop and be'. Just for a moment.