Student Engagement and Well Being

Smiling Minds

Smiling Minds is a modern meditation App designed for children to help them bring balance to their lives, develop mindfulness and regulate emotions and develop self-awareness. The Smiling Minds app is used daily as part of classroom programs across the school, either at the beginning of the day or after recess or lunch to help students transition in readiness for learning.

What exactly is Mindfulness and why is it important?

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment.

 

Mindfulness practice can save time in school and help students focus and pay attention. A few minutes of mindfulness practice can improve the learning environment. Many teachers report that on the days when students practise mindfulness, the students are calmer and the class accomplishes more than on days when mindfulness is not practised.

Examples of mindfulness practice include:

  • Becoming aware of the breath;
  • Noticing thoughts as they pass through the mind;
  • Feeling the various physical sensations of an emotion;
  • Attending to the body at rest and in motion:
  • Noticing what happens in the body when there is stress;
  • Paying attention to all the sounds in the room;
  • Feeling the stomach rise and fall with each breath
  • Watching the thoughts that arise when there is boredom;
  • Choosing to respond rather than react to stressful situations;
  • Practising sending kindness to oneself and others.

Following highly regarded institutions such as UCLA, Harvard, Oxford, Monash and Melbourne Universities developing clinical studies into the positive impacts of Mindfulness Meditation, proves that regular practise helps combat stress, improves focus and increases resilience.

 

Here are some quotes from some of our older students about their thoughts on practising Mindfulness with the Smiling Minds app.

 

Adam: “I like mindfulness because it’s relaxing and it’s a great way to settle down after recess before getting into our work.”

 

Sam: “You can lay or sit quietly and focus on your breathing and calming yourself, especially if you feel a bit angry.”

 

Max: “Mindfulness is meditation but you are still aware of your surroundings, which makes it more interesting because you can still hear and feel things going on. It is really enjoyable and I look forward to a bit of ‘me’ time everyday.”

 

Baxter: “When you come in from recess, it’s a good time to think about what you need to do in that session instead of just rushing into your work. Also, if you had a bad recess or something happened with a friend or game, you can reflect on it and it helps you concentrate on your work when you start after the Mindfulness session.”

 

Yoga Therapy for Kids

Yoga Therapy is designed to assist children to become more aware of their bodies whilst using corrective exercises to combat a variety of issues such as attention deficit and sensory issues, as well as many health issues, including stress and anxiety.

We currently have a senior school teacher, Chiara Colombo, who has attended and completed a course –Yoga Therapy for Children – which she is trialling for one hour a week with her grade.

Each session starts by practising breathing techniques, followed by a warm up and a discussion about what area the class will work on and the types of things they need to concentrate on e.g. breathing out through the mouth, activating their core. They then do some partner exercises, followed by a partner massage and then finish with a guided meditation for about 10 minutes.

Here is how some of the students feel about Yoga Therapy.

 

 Jed: “I find it really good when we do the core muscle exercises. It’s challenging, but you end up feeling relaxed and relieved after. I think all students should do it because it’s a good peaceful activity to get your mind off things that are bothering you.”

 

 Mick: “I think yoga really helped our class and calmed us down. It gets us focused for the week because we have a lot of energy. The partner exercises and massages have really helped us to work as one big group. Personally, yoga has helped me to exercise and focus at the same time. There have also been a lot of laughs during our sessions.”

 

Baxter: “Monday morning is a great time to do yoga and relax. It eases you into the week and makes you feel relaxed yet energetic. The best part about our yoga is the relaxing massage we get from our partner (even though we have to return the favour!)”

 Josh: “I like when we get into a position and stay there for a little bit and loosen and strengthen our muscles. I really like when we work in pairs and help each other with tricky positions to accomplish the pose. I also like the guided meditation at the end where I feel really calm and my muscles feel a good exhausted.”

 

Over the holidays you might like to try out the Smiling Minds app at home. It can be downloaded for free onto a tablet or just sign in online.

Bronwyn Orr & Chiara Colombo