Next week, around 500,000 students in years’ 3 and 5 will sit their NAPLAN tests for literacy and numeracy.
This can be a particularly stressful time for students, many of whom are already experiencing issues with anxiety and depression. A report last year found that four in ten (43%) young people identified mental health as the top issue facing Australia today – up from 33% in 2017 and doubling since 2016.
To combat this, many schools and organisations are embarking on mindfulness programs. Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the present moment through the practice of meditation and through other training.
Today, thousands of primary schools across Australia will take part in the world’s biggest mindfulness lesson, ‘A Mindful Moment’, which kicked off at 11am this morning.
Students from across the world put aside 15 minutes to take part in a range of mindful activities, learn relaxation techniques and breathing exercises. The initiative also raised money for organisations that support mental wellness.
ClassDojo, a classroom communication app in over 50% of Australian primary schools and the organiser of the event, is hoping that tens of millions of children will take part worldwide.
Maegan Howden, a teacher at St.Peter’s Catholic Primary School in Sunshine West, Victoria said that after attending a recent professional development with a focus on well-being, she has been experimenting with a range of strategies for teaching well-being in the classroom.
“I came across the growth mindset videos on Class Dojo and was thoroughly impressed with how they were engaging, informative and age appropriate,” Howden said.
“I intend to keep experimenting with well-being teaching strategies and made the decision to take part in the 'Mindful Moment' event to send the message to my students that their well-being is a vital part of a holistic education.”
Howden said practicing mindfulness can help children (and adults) to improve their focus, reduce stress levels, regulate their emotions, increase their sense of optimism and demonstrate more compassion towards themselves and others.
A new survey by ClassDojo of 1,047 families and 891 teachers in Australia shows that:
- 75% of parents and 98% of teachers say students experience anxiety during the school day
- 63% of parents and 64% of teachers say learning how to manage feelings of anxiety is now equally as important as school work - 31% of parents and 32% of teachers say it’s even more important
- 67% of parents practice mindfulness with their child at home
- Of those who do, 96% say it has been beneficial for their child
- Top benefits include:
- Better at handling emotions: 63%
- Calmer: 42%
- Less anxious: 42%
- Happier: 36%
Other research, conducted by mindfulness leader Smiling Mind, shows that two in five (41%) teachers believe they lack adequate resources and support to teach personal and social capabilities, vital in children’s emotional, social and academic development.
The survey of 500 Australian teachers found that they believe they are insufficiently supported to do this effectively, despite 93% saying it was a high priority for them.
Liam Don, one of the co-founders of ClassDojo, says that the aim of A Mindful Moment is to bring greater awareness to the benefits that mindfulness has on children's long-term happiness.
“This can also give teachers and families a simple way to incorporate its practice into their classrooms and homes,” Don said.