Mindfulness: a breath of fresh air for Glasgow school

Kelvinside Academy Junior School is teaching pupils ‘vital life skills’ for the 21st century

Kelvinside Academy has created a mindfulness programme for its Junior School. The school, celebrating its 140th year, is “focused on innovating across all aspects of education” and has turned to mindfulness to “build resilience in its pupils”. A ‘Mindful Moments Toolkit’ has been developed, which teaches children how to meditate and ‘deep belly breathe’ through activities such as ‘teddy bear breathing’ and ‘star breathing’.

The pupils are also being introduced to ‘Mindful Movements’, gentle exercises based on Yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi , incorporating breathing and meditation. The school claims that “these mindful stretching breaks are beneficial in between lessons, or after long periods of concentration, as they help to refresh the body and calm the mind”.

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.”

Pupils from Primary 1 to 6 are working towards daily practise, harnessing the skills of mindfulness, a technique popular amongst some of the world’s brightest minds and most successful individuals, including Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs.

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

Ian Munro, Rector, said: “The mental and emotional wellbeing of our pupils is paramount. At Kelvinside Academy our pupils feel nurtured and supported from day one, and this provides a strong foundation from which they can develop resilience and prepare for the world beyond school.

“We live in exciting times, with ever-evolving technology creating a host of new opportunities. But with opportunity can come challenges, 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.”

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

Kelvinside Academy has 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.

For more information on Kelvinside Academy please visit https://www.kelvinside.org/

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