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Mindfulness in Schools

children-at-work-1-227404-mPeninsula Mindfulness is a community based not for profit association formed by teachers, counsellors, parents and professionals working with youth.
In 2013 the association began a Mindfulness in Schools pilot project funded by the State Education Department School Focused Youth Service and partnering with Head Space, Dromana Secondary College and Balnarring Primary School.

In 2014 Peninsula Mindfulness is prepared, and committed to working alongside other schools on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Peninsula Mindfulness ‘Mindfulness in Schools’ Program seeks to train school students to develop clearer awareness and greater focus, both in the classroom and in the broader school and home environments. This training will enable the students to:

  • Deal with heightened emotions, including anger
  • Improve their learning ability through greater focus
  • Manage conflict with others
  • Engage better in the classroom and during study at home.

The Program achieves sustainability by training teachers to continue leading the students in mindfulness practices. Peninsula Mindfulness teaches mindfulness as ‘fitness for the mind’- as necessary for wellbeing as physical health. The methods are simple and effective ways of using the mind more skilfully in daily life.

 

Peninsula Mindfulness Facilitators

Trained by Philippa Ransome who has 25 years experience in teaching mindfulness, the 10 mindfulness instructors include health professionals, local government youth services staff, psychologists specialising in youth, a trained disability worker, counsellors, nutritionists, parents, a yoga teacher and a photographer specialising in working with children.

All facilitators are passionate about passing on the essential skills of mindfulness to assist young people to reach their educational potential and develop personally through healthy mind habits.

 

Definitions

Mindfulness trains the mind. It brings the mind into the here and now, fully present, without judging. It is non-critical awareness of the here and now. It can be practised all the time, and brings focus into whatever we’re doing, making us more efficient and effective with less effort. Mindfulness can be practised as ‘quiet time’ where students focus on a single subject to bring the mind towards stillness and clarity.

Relaxation trains the body and is consciously allowing the muscles to soften and let go of tension, leaving us feeling more comfortable.

Their combined result is a stronger, calmer, more flexible and fit mind in a stronger, more flexible, more comfortable body. Teachers and students quickly grow to enjoy and appreciate the practices, and find they soon save, rather than take, time, with less time spent gaining students’ attention and dealing with distractions.

Practiced by teachers and students, relaxation and mindfulness both complement and enhance other social-emotional and academic excellence programs already in place in the school.

 

Summary of Key Research on Mindfulness in Schools

Peninsula Mindfulness’s recent work in schools has produced some positive indicators:

  • I thought the PD [to all teachers] was great – well done. I am very keen to introduce it to the new Year 7s for 2014 – BM, Head of Year and Transition Coordinator
  • We would be interested in getting [Mindfulness] into the Year 8/9 Health Ed curriculum. Great idea - EK, Year 9 Coordinator
  • Can I become trained up? – KA, Secondary Teacher
  • A and M did Mindfulness with 80 Year 11s using Philippa’s recording. Very positive [response]. Only 5 out of 80 students couldn’t concentrate. Kids had been asking for it – MIS Project Working Party minutes
  • Boys acknowledged that mindfulness helped their footy skills, and also the Year level [11] nominated that this focus helped them pre exams and they wanted to do this again pre exams - MIS Project Working Party minutes
  • [The Mindfulness technique] made us all realise how much over-thinking our minds do – even when we are not that conscious of it – Secondary Teacher
  • After 2 training sessions, boarding staff at Worawa College guided their Year 7-10 girls in the Relaxation technique and a major insomnia issue was resolved
  • Staff at Worawa report they are noticeably calmer and more effective in their work; and that this is noticeably calming the students
  • After 4 mindfulness training sessions, teachers at Balnarring Primary School have used Relaxation and Mindfulness to defuse highly emotional situations in small groups of children, and to gain focus from the children before and during lessons.


Teaching mindfulness to both students and teachers has produced good results in the US and UK; and Dr Craig Hassed [Monash University] has found in working with Victorian schools that mindfulness:

  • Is a valuable primary prevention mental health strategy
  • Facilitates learning
  • Improves student focus
  • Is enjoyed by the students and improves student engagement
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves work performance.

 

Students Comments [.b project, UK]

  • It just helps me to gather up my thoughts, and sort of restart. I can keep my mind focused, just getting work done, and find the answer to the problems I face
  • Very useful…I use it when stressed, overworked
  • Our class got a lot better-behaved as a result of it
  • I use mindfulness before a football match to relax and think what I want to do in the game
  • It’s helped me be less anxious and more confident
  • I used to argue with my Mum a lot. Since I’ve done the mindfulness, we haven’t had an argument. 

 

What’s Involved?

The Mindfulness in Schools program consists of 5 elements:

  1. Introduce the program to wellbeing staff, principals & teachers
  2. Train students in mindfulness
  3. Train teachers in mindfulness
  4. Train teachers to train students in mindfulness
  5. Establish sustainability

 

Conclusion

Do you want to find out how to introduce this program into your school? If so, contact – Patricia Reilly, Co-ordinator Mindfulness in Schools Program, Peninsula Mindfulness

M: 0401 963 099 E: patricia@peninsulamindfulness.com.au

www.peninsulamindfulness.com.au

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