Year 6 students from Agnes Water State School taking part in meditation activities.
Year 6 students from Agnes Water State School taking part in meditation activities. Matt Taylor GLA100518MIND

Guided meditation helps students focus in the classroom

STUDENTS at Agnes Water State School are using guided meditation as a way to better engage in their learning activities.

The program by Smiling Minds implemented at the primary school, is mapped to the Australian National Curriculum, addressing social and emotional learning capabilities.

School head of curriculum Leigh Tankey said the program helped children to understand their emotions and deal with them to better engage in the classroom.

It is designed for students from prep to Year 6, with meditations available for workplaces and sporting teams. It is run through an iPad app.

"It's beneficial because when students come in after lunch and they're heated up after an argument or a game, it helps them get back into the moment and recognise the emotions they're feeling," Ms Tankey said.

"When they're in that emotional state of being nervous, anxious or angry they can't learn.

 

Ruth Norton and Lachlan Buchanan show the book students have put together which offers feedback on the Smiling Minds program.
Ruth Norton and Lachlan Buchanan show the book students have put together which offers feedback on the Smiling Minds program. Matt Taylor GLA100518MIND

"On a Monday we will do it before class and it puts us all on the same playing field with regards to just stopping, regathering our thoughts and setting down an intention for how we're going to spend our day."

Ms Tankey said the students tracked how they felt before and after meditation through personal journals.

She said the process not only allowed students to be mindful of their mental well-being, but taught them gratitude, empathy and curiosity.

She said the program had received positive feedback from the students.

"We're not ever discounting feeling like anger or sadness because they're very normal ways to feel and it's important that you do feel that way," she said.

"But it teaches them to recognise that emotion and then deal with it.

"The kids just love doing it."

School principal Trevor Buchanan, who has been a principal for 11 years, said he was seeing more emphasis placed on mental health in schools.

"Mental health is becoming a bigger push from a departmental level and a system as a whole, with our well-being frameworks being implemented in schools across the state," Mr Buchanan said.

"There is a greater acknowledgement around the research and science that sits behind well-being, so it's no longer seen as an alternative type of activity.

"One of the things that was a big issue for us was around resiliency in our school; we saw a lot of kids were disengaging from learning.

 

Laef Rupp and Che Impey show off their mindfulness journals at Agnes Water State School.
Laef Rupp and Che Impey show off their mindfulness journals at Agnes Water State School. Matt Taylor GLA100518MIND

"They were coming in with anxiety-based concerns, and we were seeing a significant increase in anxiety levels...but the school didn't have strategies to overcome that."

Ms Tankey said her top priority in the classroom was to ensure the mental well-being of her students.

"One particular activity I find really helpful with them is My Internal Weather, and understanding that emotions pass," she said.

"Kids don't know what to do sometimes, they feel like they have days where everything's bad and everyone's mean to them.

"This tool talks them through it and its something they can all relate to."

Teachers are also engage in the activities at staff meetings.


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