At Roby Park, we believe that helping your child to be calm and happy is one of our most important roles. When children are calm and happy they learn more easily and enjoy their time at school. To help show our commitment to this aspect of our learning we have introduced a new mindfulness based programme called “Calmer Classrooms”.
What is mindfulness?
Once upon a time it wasn’t necessary to learn mindfulness. We just were mindful. If we were washing up or gardening or fixing the car that’s what we were doing. Now, with the introduction of technology into every aspect of our lives, we start baking with the kids and our phone pings so we read and reply to a text. We have to remember to focus on what is happening now. To concentrate on one thing at once, to live in the now. We don’t feel stressed about now. We don’t feel anxious about now. We just live in the ‘now’.
By staying in the present as much as possible, we can profoundly reduce our stress and anxiety levels. This is the fundamental principle of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us to respond more appropriately to our basic evolutionary fight, flight or freeze reactions. Our biological responses are fighting against us in everyday, commonplace situations whenever we feel anxious or scared.
You see, when you are stressed a message shoots from your amygdala (a tiny gland in the middle of our brain) which tells your adrenal glands to start pumping adrenaline round your body. (The adrenal glands sit just over your kidneys, at the base of your back).These chemical messengers, known as adrenaline, attach themselves to your heart and other relevant muscles to give them the strength and stamina for the fight or flight you would once have needed.
To get your body to reduce adrenaline production, you need to encourage your body to produce dopamine and serotonin, the happy chemicals. These chemical messengers then send a message to your brain that everything is ok. The adrenaline production naturally reduces and you begin to feel calm and content.By learning breathing techniques and to pay attention and be present you send calming messages round your body and this calms you down on a basic biological level.
Often in modern life we rush through things and can barely remember what we have done at the end of the day because we are on autopilot. By learning to focus on what we are doing we can make a huge difference to our ability to process the world around us. We learn to be calmer, more thoughtful, to concentrate more on the work we are doing. Most importantly though we learn to worry less.
In a world where stress levels, even among children, are on the increase, learning tools to combat these issues is essential. Mindfulness isn’t just about staying calm though. It improves concentration and focus and has been shown to improve exam results in studies. It also strengthens relationships and make us more emotionally resilient. It increases community spirit and encourages empathy and kindness.
These are all key principles here at Roby Park and we are delighted to be able to help our children to learn and grow in such a positive and mindful way.
Why not have a go at a simple activity?
- Put some calming music on
- Ask the children to lie on their back and roll into a ball, as tightly as they can
- After a minute or so ask them to go all floppy as they make a star shape with their bodies
- Then ask them to slowly curl up each of their star points; curl in their right arm tightly, then slowly release, right leg, left leg, left arm and finally tense all the muscles in their face and relax
- Leave them listening to the music for a few minutes. (You can even read them a lovely relaxing story at this point).
This is a great video to use to help children control their breathing.
Breathe in as Mojo grows.
Hold your breathe while he stays the same size.
Slowly breathe out as he return to his normal size.