Improving health and wellbeing for children and young people is one of the key areas identified in the Scottish Government’s 2020 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan. All teachers working in schools have the responsibility for addressing this in their classroom and ensuring children are able to develop their mental, emotional and social wellbeing (Mental Health Strategy, 2017) which is important for their learning and development, both within school and outwith. By aiming to improve children’s health and wellbeing it helps children to achieve the Curriculum for Excellence’s four capacities: successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Mindfulness is a way which can be used to help improve the health and wellbeing of children and has become increasingly used in the classroom setting. There is a wide range of mindfulness practices and techniques that can be used to promote mental health and wellbeing. Mindfulness, in particular mindful pauses and breathing, has at least five broad beneficial effects as identified by Huppert and Johnson (2010): increased sensory awareness, greater cognitive control, enhanced regulation of emotions, acceptance of thoughts and feelings the capacity to regulate attention.
Although the practitioner already uses brain breaks within their classroom, it was of interest to see if using mindful pauses consistently resulted in any noticeable benefits and changes to children’s behaviour, focus and health and wellbeing. This area for enquiry links together the practitioner’s own interest in mindfulness, their individual school’s development plan and also at a national level of interest. Moreover the use of mindfulness is important in helping improve attainment in schools (Education Scotland, 2018).
The aim of this professional enquiry was to investigate mindful pausing in the classroom and the benefits it may bring to learners. Benefits that were looked into were: did it promote positive behaviour, improve concentration and focus and promote overall health and wellbeing in class.