Education news

Children to receive mindfulness in primary schools

Matthew McCrellis and Maria Zyser from Phoenix IPS with Claire Kelly from MiSC and Bernard McAnaney from Aware

A NEW mindfulness programme is being offered to primary school pupils to help them cope better with anxiety.

Paws b has been created by teachers and mindfulness experts to engage young children.

It is ideally taught to 7-11 year olds and is adapted from the .b mindfulness curriculum for secondary schools.

It aims to give children mindfulness as a life-skill and use it to help them feel happier, calmer and more fulfilled, get on better with others, help them concentrate, cope with stress and anxiety and support performance such as music and sport.

The programme is taught with striking visuals, film clips and activities that bring mindfulness to life without losing the expertise and integrity of classic mindfulness teaching. It is taught over six weeks and sessions last an hour.

Designed and licensed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), it was launched this week by depression charity Aware at the Mindfulness in Schools Conference: Free your Mind.

The conference included an overview of a Paws b lesson, Our Amazing Brain and reflections from Phoenix Integrated and St Columba's PS principals Heather Watson and Fiona Kennedy on the impact Paws b had in their schools. With the mental health of children in focus during February, delegates also heard first-hand what Phoenix IPS pupils had learned from their Paws b sessions, and how they have benefited.

Bernard McAnaney from Aware's board of trustees said Mindfulness was about giving full attention to what was happening in the present moment - "to what is happening in your body, your mind and your surroundings".

"Research has shown that mindfulness can have a significant positive effect on the emotional wellbeing of children," he said.

"Paws b has been carefully crafted by teachers and mindfulness experts to engage young children. The programme aims to help children feel happier and calmer, help them cope better with stress and anxiety, and help them concentrate and get on better with others. Paws b is usually taught over six weeks in one hour sessions, however Aware can tailor this to suit the school."

Claire Kelly, director of curricula and training at MiSP said it was an important time to be introducing young people and those who work and care for them to mindfulness.

"It's also great to see how much interest there is in bringing mindfulness into schools in Northern Ireland, and Aware has a great deal to offer in terms of supporting this goal," she said.

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