This week, across the country, children of all ages were taking part in formal assessments. There were children sitting A level exams, GCSE exams and SATS tests. Our Year 6 children spent each morning this week demonstrating their understanding of the different areas of English and Mathematics by completing test papers. Regardless of how often we tell our children that if they try their hardest then we as teachers and parents will be proud of them, regardless of their results, they can still feel an immense amount of pressure.
Through our mentoring programmes we learn about the things that children worry about; test results, performances on the sporting field, friendship issues, sibling issues, self-worth issues and pressures that they feel from home are not uncommon across all of our year groups.
You, as parents, have entrusted us with your children and we want to do all that we can to help them. Every pupil will face challenges that they will need to learn to overcome. Part of the resilience we need to develop is helping the children to cope with the pressures put on them, by not only others, but themselves. At Gateway, one of the ways that we do this is through the teaching of ‘mindfulness.’
When children reach Year 5 they undergo mindfulness training, which is then revisited in Year 6. This course has been taught for the past two years. We are now looking at how we can develop mindfulness throughout the school. We have invested in an ‘app’ called Headspace. Each teacher has their own account, which they use with their classes. There are many different practices that the teachers can use with their classes throughout the day. It is absolutely lovely to walk into a class of 5-year-olds and watch them participate in a practice, whether it be to help them relax, increase concentration or prepare them for an activity.
For those of you who aren’t quite sure what Mindfulness is...
Mindfulness is when we are able to focus on the present; what we are currently doing and why. Our mind naturally wonders, so by using different practices we are able to increase the amount of time we can stay focused on what is currently happening around us. This sounds easy but I’m sure you can appreciate that it isn’t!
Mindfulness helps our pupils to;
- Understand how the brain works and why they have negative thoughts
- Recognise when they are feeling stressed and why
- Arm them with strategies to help them cope with these situations and prevent them from getting worse
I would like to think that the skills learnt in this course are not only used for the present but can be used throughout our children’s lives, whenever they need them.
To quote a Year 6 pupil:
‘Mindfulness has really helped me and I will use it more for when I am stressed, worried and nervous. It should hopefully really help me for the rest of my life. I think I'm quite good at mindfulness now. It has made me think a lot about what my brain actually does, and how it functions. I really enjoyed this mindfulness course, and will tell other people about it and see if it helps them.’