Monthly Archives: September 2016

Mindfulness Monday in RETNS.

 

In a world where stress is cited as one of the greatest occupational hazards, mindfulness based practices are invaluable for adults and children alike… Inviting mindfulness into the daily lives of children increases their capacity to become still and feel good about themselves. Mindfulness based practices are simple yet profound and create a solid foundation on which to build self-worth, compassion and understanding.

www.mindfulnessmatters.ie

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As part of our recent Wellbeing Week most classes sampled the practice of mindfulness and we intend to continue the practice with our Mindfulness Monday initiative. Mindfulness is becoming a highly recommended practice for children and adults, and many of our staff members have completed courses in mindfulness and are aware of its connection to wellbeing. Mindfulness for schools is associated with the SPHE programme, specifically the strands of Myself and Self-Identity. It is claimed that mindfulness practice has been shown to enhance physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and improve concentration. There are a number of websites dedicated to mindfulness in schools, including www.mindfulnessmatters.ie and www.mindfulnessinschools.org.

According to mindfulnessinschools.org, mindfulness differs from some other forms of meditation as instead of encouraging a person to clear their minds, it asks them to concentrate on their thoughts and focus on what surrounds them without allowing themselves to get distracted.

Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Mark Williams, says that using mindfulness to become more aware of what’s going on around us can help to alleviate the “tunnel-vision” we develop when bustling between daily activities. ‘Mindfulness offers us the chance to take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate each sensation, feeling and emotion that affects us and respond appropriately to them. By doing this, we can move forwards with a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us.’

In 2012 an academic study was conducted by Katherine Weare, emeritus professor at Exeter and Southampton universities. Looking at the impact of mindfulness on children and young people, the study found that mindfulness helps to develop cognitive and performance skills. In turn, this then leads to children becoming more focused in the classroom and paying closer attention to their studies. (www.mindfulnessinschools.org).

Mindfulness can be a simple technique that only takes a second. Some classroom activities promoted at the teacher training on mindfulness include asking children to take out their copies mindfully, write mindfully, colour mindfully or sit mindfully. In this way they are more fully present to the activity and therefore more focused and able to learn. A mindfulness posture can set the scene for listening; being ‘alert yet relaxed’. Children may be asked to focus on their breathing. Focus on breathing and body awareness is an integral part of mindfulness, again helping us become more aware, more present.

Mindfulness can be used for all kinds of situations and with different intentions. Children can be asked to take a silent moment to listen to the sounds around them, they can be asked to become aware of the pictures and personal stories in their mind, focusing on times when they were resourceful, confident or pleased with themselves. They can then re-create this in the present. When a child is anxious, stressed or ‘in a bad place’ they can be asked to become aware of it and then think of a favourite piece of music, let it play in the mind, and see how they feel afterwards. Visualisations can help children to let go of stressful thoughts or experiences, or they can write their stressors out, crumple them up and dump them. Children can go on mindfulness walks, being aware of what they experience through their senses as they walk.

Parents who are interested in exploring this area in more detail might like to check out www.mindfulnessmatters.ie for more information and a range of Irish resources, podcasts, etc. on the topic of mindfulness.

I asked some children in 5th class for their thoughts on mindfulness.

Mindfulness makes the rest of my day more relaxed.

It clears my mind from my worries.

If you’re really stuck at something, like in maths, a quick 10 second mindfulness break is really good.

It gets down stress.

It makes you feel like a better person.

Mindfulness colouring helps you get your mind working at the start of the day.

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Well-Being Week

Well-being Week

‘Well-being means feeling strong in our minds and bodies, having energy, getting along with and helping others, knowing our strengths and feeling proud because we are doing our best. It means we can cope with the little problems and disappointments of life. It means enjoying life, being grateful for what we have and accepting ourselves just as we are!’

Quote from Weaving Well-Being, Fiona Forman and Nick Rock

 

Many programmes and practices exist in our school to enhance the well-being of pupils and staff, and our hope is that these will lead to a positive learning and working environment for all. Through our committees and other opportunities for student participation in the life of the school we are committed to listening to our students and providing them with ways in which they can build their self-esteem, solve problems, resolve differences, develop supportive relationships and become active and responsible citizens in society. This work continues throughout the year and permeates all aspects of school life. It has been well documented recently that enhancing well-being brings benefits to other areas of life; better academic performance, greater sociability, better ability to cope with the ups and downs of life. It has also been said that success follows happiness rather than the other way around – an interesting viewpoint for those involved in enhancing the well-being of children.

During Well-Being Week teachers will explore with children, at an age appropriate level, what is meant by well-being and what are the implications of taking care of our well-being in our daily lives. They will help children to realise that well-being is linked with feeling good in our body and mind and that it helps us cope with the ups and downs of life and increases our resilience to setbacks and failures, helping us to bounce back and start again. Children will be given tools to develop character strengths and boost positive emotions and they will explore, through a range of activities, ways in which they can empower themselves and make well informed decisions and choices. Well-being will be discussed in terms of friendship, caring for others, feeling part of a community. Other aspects to be explored will be the link between well-being and healthy eating, exercise and sleep, and the importance of being able to switch off our busy minds for a while and feel calm and peaceful, and present in the moment (mindfulness).

Our senior pupils will have an important role during Well-Being Week as they will support the younger children on the playground, building relationships and being role models for the type of behaviour we expect in school. Through taking on responsibilities and assuming ownership for their school, our senior pupils are invaluable in promoting a positive well-being culture throughout the school.

We look forward to a positive year ahead, where we will build relationships, support each other as a team and help to foster in our pupils a sense of care and respect for themselves and others, creating a school in which pupils feel safe and happy and are motivated to learn and achieve to the very best of their ability.

Odd Sock Day - Celebrating our diversity and uniqueness
Odd Sock Day – Celebrating our diversity and uniqueness.