Schools

Busy young brains get a break as school teaches mindfulness to its girls and boys

By Ian Marland at

A West End school is teaching mindfulness to pupils as young as five.

Kelvinside Academy says it wants to help its young people cope with the “busyness” of modern childhood.

Mindfulness

Relax: Rohan Karve and Sarah Denis, Primary 3 Kelvinside Academy pair up for a mindfulness exercise

Children meditate and ‘deep belly breathe’ through fun activities like teddy bear breathing and star breathing.

The pupils are also being introduced to ‘mindful movements’ – gentle exercises based on Yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi.

In school, these mindful stretching breaks are beneficial in between lessons or after long periods of concentration.

The techniques have been proven to help refresh the body and calm the mind.

Mindfulness

Poised: Primary 3 Kelvinside Academy pupils try out ‘Mindful Movements’, gentle exercises based on Yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi incorporating breathing and meditation.

Junior School teacher Emma Laird-Jones pioneered the rollout of the toolkit.

She said: “Mindfulness exercises are proven to help children learn positive life skills such as how to relax, channel feelings, deal with anger and focus better on tasks.

“They learn strategies that help them cope with a range of different situations and emotions.”

The school recently opened its mindfulness roof garden – an outdoor space filled with plants where children can take time out to reflect in the fresh air and practise their mindfulness techniques away from the hustle and bustle of the school.

Mindfulness is popular amongst some of the world’s brightest minds and most successful individuals, including Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs.

Mindfulness

Calm: Some members of Kelvinside Academy’s Primary 3 try ‘teddy bear breathing’ with teacher Mrs Laird-Jones

Oxford University now offers a Masters Degree in Mindfulness.

Mrs Laird-Jones added: “To support healthy emotional development even our youngest pupils in Junior 1 to 3 are involved.

“The idea is with early intervention we can help prepare the children with the life skills required to thrive in the 21st century.”

Pupils are encouraged to take the toolkit home and share what they’ve learnt with their families.

The school’s Virtual Learning Environment, Frog, hosts videos and links with further information and resources for parents, staff and pupils to use, creating a whole school ethos united in mindfulness.

Mindfulness

Switch-off: Rory Dalziel, Primary 3 Kelvinside Academy and classmates try out mindfulness exercises including ‘deep belly breathing’

Ian Munro, Rector, said: “We live in exciting times, with ever-evolving technology creating a host of new opportunities.

“But with opportunity can come challenge, and youngsters are far from immune to the mental health pressures of the busy world in which we live.

“Mindfulness helps our youngsters to shut out that busyness and focus on the task at hand.”

By practising mindfulness, depression, stress and anxiety are reduced; with feelings of well-being and focus increased – this has been reported to have a direct correlation to academic success.

Karl Otto, Primary 5 said: “I like mindfulness because it lets you have a brain break, which helps me to concentrate in class.”