Some in the press have sought to push back against this idea being pushed forward by specific schools who are worried about the mental health of over-stressed children.
The Telegraph wrote an article in 2017 stating “Schools should be wary of teaching mindfulness to children, a professor has said as he warned that their enthusiasm may be ahead of research”.
But mindfulness, yoga and meditation have been growing in popularity at schools as a way to support well-being and mental health. Students who have been taught meditation and well-being reported more positive emotions, better self-acceptance and took better care of their health generally; experiencing reduced anxiety with less anti-social behavior.
DEALING WITH NEW AND COMPLEX EMOTIONS CAN BE MITIGATED BY MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
When they have a tantrum it is most likely because they are struggling to deal with new and complex emotions that they are feeling for the first time in their lives. When children act out by kicking and screaming, very often it is simply because they don’t understand what they are going through, and can’t find a better way to express their feelings.
Schools in England are beginning to address this issue with a new approach, and that is by teaching mindfulness and meditation in the classroom to improve students’ overall mental health.
The secondary school students will also learn about awareness and how to increase this in their everyday lives. This program is being conducted under a wider mental health study that the British government will be running until 2021.
Aside from the increasing number of young children that are showing signs of early onset depression and anxiety, National Health Service (NHS) reports have also indicated that 1-in-8 British children have mental disorders.
Despite these statistics, only 1 in every 5 children in the UK with mental issues are able to get access to the treatment they need.
But England isn’t the only country that has added mindfulness as a subject among schools. Many schools in America have decided to replace detention with an area where the children could go to practice some breathing and stretching exercises instead. This is a way to keep the students calmer in order to increase their focus within the classroom.
Hundreds of primary school children in Berkshire UK have had meditation classes introduced into their timetables. The ‘mindfulness’ teaching aims to help them manage their own behavior and anxieties, and improve their concentration and listening skills.
How meditation is taught “Mindfulness” meditation is one of the more popular practices being taught at schools. It involves a three-step mental process where students are asked to:
1 focus their attention on a particular target (for example their own breathing, a sound, a sensation);
2 notice when their attention has wondered away from the target;
3 bring their attention back to the target.
Students are asked to do this without being judgmental and with a curiosity that allows them to identify patterns in their thoughts and feelings. This leads to a clearer mind and a more peaceful outlook; with many people speaking out in favor of meditation lets hope this subject becomes more common.
Helping schools to better recognize aspects of the school that are already drawing on meditation without perhaps calling it that name. For example, many aspects of existing curricula in drama, music, art, physical education and outdoor education are already using meditative and attention-focusing techniques.
Tests and trials are still ongoing but if meditation is to be introduced more widely in schools, researchers will continue to measure the effects of meditation to find out how it works and when it works most effectively.
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