A few weeks ago the Chronicle was kindly invited to Waitetuna School to learn about their mindfulness programme.
On a Monday morning we sat with the entire school for a mindfulness session that focused on breathing, visualization and gratitude.
Mariella Brunton the junior teacher who is passionate about it’s benefits facilitated the session. Mariella is so passionate infact that she is applying for sabbatical leave next year to complete intensive mindfulness training in India.
After experiencing the exercise we can appreciate that the students would start their week and day feeling both calm and focused.
The discussion afterwards had many contributors each wanting to offer what they were grateful for and how they were feeling. Each response was heart warming and testament that the programme was well worth introducing.
The Chronicle caught up with Mariella to find out more about the programme and its benefits.
When did you implement Mindfulness at Waitetuna School?
We have been consistently practising Mindfulness at Waitetuna since February this year.
Why did you decide to introduce it?
We decided to start the year with a focus on relationships and friendships; how to practise kindness towards everyone. Mindfulness was a way of celebrating everything we are thankful for, and focussing on the positive. It was such a success in term one, that we decided to continue it as a regular programme.
To be able to promote mental health and to increase positive states of wellbeing is so important. If we can offer these tools to primary school students, they will then be better equipped for their transition to high school and beyond. With increasing anxiety, stress, and greater amounts of screen time, it is evident that our tamariki are desperately in need of mindful practice.
Mindfulness is a way of being in the ‘here and now’ and developing positive life skills and a focus that helps create confident and resilient children.
What benefits have you observed for the students throughout the different stages?
It was not until we gave the students ownership of their learning and asked them to do a presentation (in their chosen format) about what Mindfulness means to them, that we truly realized the benefits of Mindfulness.
The teachers and parents were overwhelmed to see what was created. The senior students showed that they use the techniques in their sports and were interested in exploring how professional sports people also practise Mindfulness. Senior and Middle Room students explained how it helps when preparing for testing situations.
Mindfulness enables students to calm down and focus on the task at hand and to be confident in their own abilities. The Junior classroom use mindfulness to find peace and focus, and to experience gratitude for things in their lives.
In addition, the Junior and Middle Rooms are developing greater balance and flexibility through their yoga sessions. Sports experts who regularly come to work in our school have noticed a change and are interested in this aspect of the children’s learning. We are also thankful to the community for supporting and encouraging this new initiative.