April Stillie

English

Calderhead High

  • Health & Wellbeing

Relaxation Strategies and Their Impact on Focus Within the Classroom

Rationale

Health and wellbeing is an integral part of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and highly promoted within schools in order to support and enhance learning. Therefore, ensuring all learners are relaxed within the classroom is significant in allowing them to learn successfully (Scottish Government, 2008). When encountering low rates of classroom disruption, teachers are more likely to implement proactive strategies that lead to better classroom management and student learning outcomes which increase pupil focus (Pas et al 2010). Success within a learning environment requires a non-disruptive classroom environment so pupils can fully concentrate on educational material. Although stress is a difficult term to define as it has different implications for each individual it is acknowledged that those who experience it are unable to retain information as well as those who do not (Smith, 2004). Pupils’ who experience levels of stress are less likely to retain focus which negatively impacts their learning.

According to the Truine Brain theory (MacLean, 1960) our brains consist of three independent competing minds known as the Reptilian complex within the prefrontal cortex, Paleo-mammalian complex surrounding the hippocampus and the Neo-mammalian complex within the amygdala. These three systems within the brain are also considered our primal brain, emotional brain and our rational brain (Gould 2003). Our primal brain is where we do our thinking, creating, organising and problem solving and therefore significantly important when within a learning environment. Our emotional brain is where this information is stored and retained and finally out rational brain is our internal alarm centre which reacts when individuals feel under threat or experience stress. When an individual becomes anxious, scared or experiences any level of stress their rational brain engages which creates a disconnect between the primal and emotional brain. This results in the individual going into a fight, flight or freeze mode and so they are unable to take in, retain or understand any outside information creating a block in learning of any kind. Therefore it is of upmost importance that learners feel relaxed within a classroom in order to ensure that the brain is able to process and retain information/learning.

Aims

The aim of this professional enquiry was to observe the impact of relaxation tools within the classroom in order to increase levels of focus for all learners.

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