Well-being program gives schools something to meditate on

by Brett Henebery07 Jul 2015

Rachael Fisher, founder of KindKids, told The Educator that her organisation’s mindfulness program, designed for children aged 7-11, also has practical applications for teachers and principals.
“With mindfulness, teachers are able to bring more presence when they engage with students. Mindfulness empowers teachers and students to manage challenging behaviours and difficult issues such as bullying,” Fisher told The Educator.
“In essence mindfulness brings students and teachers together and all areas of school life become opportunities to practice.”
Fisher said that in a fast-paced society it was important for children to learn how to “slow down and savour the present moment”, a practice which she said can lead to improved focus in the classroom among other benefits.
“When children are given the regular space to be still, then not only does the perceived value of the practice increase but so do the benefits,” Fisher explained.
“Such benefits include: better focus and attention; improved impulse control; increased calm and contentment; increased empathy and understanding of others; greater sense of confidence and choicefulness.”
Some schools, such as Waverley Public School in NSW and Santa Maria College in Perth, have attributed improvements in their students’ academic performance to the practice, heeding research into the benefits of mindfulness in schools.
So what does the research say?
A recent meta-review of the effects of meditation being used in schools has shown that mindfulness is just as important as any other school program when it comes to maintaining and improving student well-being and performance.
The review, published by the University of Melbourne, combined the results from 15 studies and almost 1,800 students from Australia, Canada, India, the UK, the US and Taiwan.
The findings showed meditation leads to three broad outcomes for students: better well-being, social skills and academic skills.
Fisher said mindfulness takes what teachers want and expect from their students such as concentrating, being confident, paying attention and being kind and shows them how to do this “from the inside out.” 
“In KindKids, students develop these mindfulness skills and learn how to be restful and resilient, how to be generous and kind, how to manage challenging emotions and how to be choiceful versus reactive,” Fisher said.
“Mindfulness cultivates a new way of being brave. Instead of resisting or running from difficulties, mindfulness empowers youth with the skills to intentionally turn towards their difficult emotions and approach problems with openness, kindness and curiosity.”
For more information, please visit the KindKids website here