A prep school in County Durham has introduced mindfulness classes for under-11s.
Pupils at Barnard Castle Preparatory School learn about enlightenment and wellbeing in sessions led by headmistress Laura Turner.
The scheme started as a voluntary programme for students but is now a formal part of the curriculum. During the last lesson of the day, students join Mrs Turner in sessions which feature movement, games, stretching and breathing exercises, relaxation stories and personal affirmations.
We have designed a curriculum and a raft of enrichment activities that allow pupils to learn and flourish while still enjoying their childhoods
Barnard Castle Senior School has followed suit and now offers hour-long sessions in activities like chess, languages, public speaking, sport, cooking and gardening.
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Turner said: “Modern day society encourages children to be older before they are ready. We are trying to help them hold on to their childhood, creativity and imaginations for as long as possible. If you can achieve the right balance, keeping pupils on an even keel, then children can be children for longer.”
“They often wake up in the morning and their heads are like snow-globes of confusion,” the headmistresses explained. “We have designed a curriculum and a raft of enrichment activities that allow pupils to learn and flourish while still enjoying their childhoods. Instead of SATS they complete an array of fascinating projects throughout Year 6 to gain a much more valuable, rewarding and relevant Achievement Award,” she added.
The school said the move was backed by research which suggests excessive homework demands, SATS and digital devices have a negative impact on students’ self-esteem.
“They are children and should not have to worry, feel under pressure or suffer anxiety. With the wellness sessions, if they do feel anxious in the future, they will be able to think back to their lessons and restore their calm,” Turner explained.