The mindful school.

It has been said that the average child today is more stressed and anxious than their peers who were treated for a variety of psychiatric issues in previous generations.

Stress in schools is on the rise, but it is not only children who are stressed, teachers carry a tremendous amount of stress around with them during the day.  It is not surprising that teachers are stressed and some are “burning out”.  I used to work at a High School and as a member of staff, I not only became very aware of the responsibility of educating children and keeping them safe during the school day, but also witnessed what can only be described as a Mount Everest sized pile of administration which accompanies working in a school.   OK, Mount Everest might be an exaggeration, but I think it is important to remember that teachers can become completely bogged down with the volume of work expected of them.   I had always assumed that teachers took lovely long school holidays and was surprised to find that most holidays are taken up with marking students work or assisting the school with holiday sports and cultural trips.   Not quite the holiday all the parents think you are having.

So with teachers feeling the strain, what about our children?  Many adolescents and even younger children struggle with uncertainly and the transitions they face as they move through the education system and approach their adult lives.  This week in the UK is Mental Health week and it is well documented that mental health problems impact students’ academic and social functioning, which in turn interferes with their ability to learn creating more stress and greater barriers to learning.  These problems can be exacerbated by the pressures of the school system and therefore place these already worn out children at risk of more serious outcomes such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide.

Luckily it has been acknowledged that there is a solution to all this anxiety and stress.  I think one of the most exciting developments of recent years is the acceptance of some schools to explore and embrace the concept of mindfulness programmes within the school day not only for students, but for staff as well.

If you are a teacher and would like to bring more mindfulness into the school you are teaching at, there are few things to consider. For the successful “uptake” of embracing mindfulness into your school environment, mindfulness should start with the well-being of the staff and therefore you would need to provide opportunities for staff to practice mindfulness and create an environment where mindfulness is part of the school’s ethos.   If you decide you would like to be the mindfulness ambassador for your school, your own personal study of mindfulness should develop so that you may provide a supportive environment to your fellow practitioners as their practice develops.  As more staff within your school start practicing regularly, a nurturing environment for all members, including students of that school will evolve.   Mindfulness training workshops at INSET days are becoming more popular and will ideally guide teachers on the development of their own mindfulness practice and how to include mindfulness practices into the school day for the benefit of the students.

In conclusion, creating an ethos of mindfulness within a school by encouraging teachers to adopt a mindful approach during the school day will create a compassionate and thoughtful learning environment for children to work and play in.  This improved learning environment will enhance the teachers love of teaching and the children’s love of learning and academic achievement, which in turn will improve everyone’s self-esteem and ultimately the students learning experience and the teachers teaching experience.

If you would like to learn more about the Chilled Out Child mindfulness workshops for teachers, please email me by following this link to the contact page and complete the form.