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Mindfulness for happier schools

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Schools will be now able to access Australia’s first dedicated mindfulness curriculum thanks to a collaboration between leading educators, psychologists and mindfulness experts.

Led by the team behind Australian wellbeing and mindfulness meditation app Smiling Mind, the Mindfulness Curriculum has been designed to provide a framework and practical resource for the way teachers embed mindfulness in schools.

With up to 20% of Australian students currently disengaged at school, research shows that mindfulness can help young people develop the emotional, behavioural and attention regulation skills that set the crucial foundation for learning and train students to be better equipped for the pressures of adult life.

Smiling Mind CEO and one of the developers of the Curriculum, Dr Addie Wootten, said it was created in response to changing societal pressures on students and the subsequent impact on their wellbeing and learning.

“Research shows that one in five students are disengaged at school, and disengaged students are on average one to two years behind their peers,” Dr Wootten said.

“What’s more, our students are facing serious mental health issues, with one in seven primary aged students reporting mental health problems.”

Practising mindfulness has been shown to strengthen areas of the brain that control executive function and can lead to strong improvements in attention, reduced stress, anxiety and depression, and better academic skills, social skills and self-esteem.

A recent meta-analysis over 70 studies comparing more than 6000 school-aged young people shows those who practised mindfulness showed:

  • Better emotion and behaviour regulation than 62% of non-practicing students
  • Better academic performance than 66% of non-practicing students
  • Lower depression and anxiety scores than 66% of non-practicing students
  • Better social skills than 64% of non-practicing students

This meta-analysis also revealed mindfulness practice is associated with a 16% increase in academic performance and mental health for practicing students relative to peers. 

The Curriculum has been mapped to the Australian National Curriculum’s mandated personal and social capabilities for Years 1-6 and can be integrated into any social and emotional learning program.

Many Australian schools are already taking an active role to address mental health issues in students through wellbeing programs, primarily composed of social and emotional learning curriculum. The Smiling Mind Evidence-Based Mindfulness Curriculum provides a framework for teachers that is easy-to-use.

The curriculum includes practical resources that teachers can implement during lessons, along with classroom and take-home activities to be used in conjunction with the free Smiling Mind app.

Educators who are interested in implementing the Mindfulness Curriculum at their school can get additional information at www.smilingmind.com.au/the-mindfulness-curriculum

How does the Mindfulness Curriculum work?

  • As part of the new Australian National Curriculum in 2017 schools have been asked to incorporate personal and social capabilities into their lessons
  • The Mindfulness Curriculum assists teachers in integrating these capabilities as it is mapped to the Australian National Curriculum and provides an ‘Educator Manual’ based around 20 mindfulness and positive psychology topics for Years 1-6, along with both classroom activities and take-home activities for the students. Topics include things such as awareness, attention, growth mindset, gratitude and
  • The Mindfulness Curriculum is unique in that it offers a consistent framework for teachers along with repetition in lesson plans across the school
  • The Mindfulness Curriculum has been designed to support students to take what has been learnt in the classroom and through personal reflection, deepen their understanding in line with each developmental stage of their lives
  • To maximise the benefits of mindfulness, it is recommended that both primary school-age and secondary school-age students have at least 4-5 mindfulness sessions per week and one teaching session per week
  • The Mindfulness Curriculum includes The Free Smiling Mind App, a manual for educators available in e-book with printed formats and Student Journals coming

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