Can you recall sitting in a classroom about to start an activity, having completely tuned out while instructions were given?
Learning to clear the mind and refocus is a challenge at any age.
For students at Gold Creek Primary School in Canberra’s north, mindfulness and movement classes are helping them to master that skill.
More than 700 students across 25 classes at the school are trialling a yoga-like program to practise mindfulness in the classroom each week.
Year six students Uzair Iqbal and Jessica Harmer said the classes had helped them to concentrate on their work.
“Afterwards everybody is nice and calm, we feel relaxed and there’s less noise and interruptions,” Uzair said.
“I think if I had a big test and I did some mindfulness techniques before, it would make me have a clear mind so I could not worry so much and just get on with it.”
“It’s great to be able to know a way to relax when you get busy,” Jessica added.
“When you’re really calm, it’s easier to do your best work.”
Brendan Carswell, the school’s director of student advancement, said the program was inspired by a group of parents at the school.
“If we get to the end of this and find it’s been a success, it’s something we’re going to embed into every classroom,” he said.
The classes run for around 20 minutes and involve breathing exercises and gentle movement.
“We’re finding it’s especially good after break times,” Mr Carswell said.
The program is based on classes developed by Sydney-based organisation Clear Minded for Life and is being delivered in the school by local instructors from Power Yoga Canberra.
“The whole idea is to upskill our own teachers so they can continue this program,” Mr Carswell said.
Justine Janssen from Power Yoga Canberra said even the most distracted kids had embraced the classes.
“The aim is to teach the kids about focus, about calm breathing and how to integrate that into their daily life.
“We use a singing bowl in each class to capture the kids’ attention; it really draws them in.
“So often we see teachers clap their hands to get the children’s attention, so for us that singing bowl does that; it’s a real source of fascination because it omits a beautiful sound.
“So many kids that were distracted on the first week are now so much more present in the class.”
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By Hannah Walmsley