Mindfulness relaxation trial records ‘overwhelming benefits’ at Canberra school
Mindfulness relaxation undertaken by a Canberra school has seen “overwhelming benefits” for its young students, teachers say.
Each morning students in Year 3 at Giralang Primary School go for a short run before heading inside and settling on the ground for a 10-minute guided relaxation.
The program allows for students to become aware of their breathing and focused for the day ahead.
The trial, which ends today, has been running for the last term and has been implemented in an opt-in basis only.
Selima McAdam, 8, said the program had helped her to feel positive throughout the day.
“I feel calm, relaxed and I feel like today’s going to be a good day,” she said.
“It helps me to stop getting annoyed with most things.”
Following the relaxation session students head to their desks for a further 10 minutes of reflection, where they draw or write about their experiences.
Teacher Christina Walker, who has been running sessions with the help of a parent, said it has had a “positive reaction” in the classroom.
“They (the students) are all saying they feel a lot calmer, after they have done the mindfulness time,” she said.
“They feel better about themselves and they interact better with each other.
“I would highly recommend it. Especially with the run first to get out the jitters and then the settling. We can just get on with our day.”
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The results are also being felt beyond the classroom.
“The kids are sleeping better at home at night because they are able to employ some of the techniques they have learnt here,” Ms Walker said.
School principal Belinda Love said she had seen “enormous benefits” from the trial, with students becoming more driven.
“Students are producing a lot more work now in the mornings,” she said.
“It’s all about thinking about students focus, breathing, getting in and just being centred before they start their day of academic work.
“We don’t know what happens at every child’s household before they come to school … so getting everybody focused and centred and breathing is important.”
Mindfulness helping to defuse stress in children
Education and wellbeing expert from the University of Canberra, Thomas Neilson, said schools nationwide need to look at implementing similar models to defuse rising stress levels in their students.
“Never before in our entire human history have young children been bombarded with so many images as they are now,” he said.
“Our physiological health is worse than it has ever been so it has never been more needed that we have strategies and we have tools with which we can be more healthy of mind.
“Meditation has already proven … to be one of the strongest predictors of making us more calm, making us more mindful, making us more present and aware in the moment.”
Ms Walker said it was imperative that schools address the mental wellbeing of its students.
“Student wellbeing should be paramount to what we are doing here in the classroom,” she said.
“They can’t learn if they are too stressed or worried about what is going on in the world.”
Students today graduated from the Melbourne University’s Smiling Mind mindfulness meditation program.