Will the introduction of a weekly mindfulness journal promote individual self-regulation in primary aged children?
The rationale behind exploring health and wellbeing within the classroom comes from the current focus on its importance and how we can foster emotional literacy in children. The development of emotional skills and resilience in school age children is the cornerstone to building a secure and successful future for young people (Ashdown and Bernard, 2012). Emotional wellbeing much like the overarching concept of HWB is an extremely complex term. According to McLaughlin (2008) emotional wellbeing can also be referred to as: emotional literacy, emotional intelligence and positive mental health. The Scottish curriculum highlights six areas of focus within HWB: Mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing; planning for choices and change; physical education, activity and sport; food and health; relationships, sexual health and parenthood then finally substance misuse (Thorburn, 2014). The areas listed are significant and contribute to creating a more holistic view of learners overall HWB. Mental health within school is often addressed widely through policies with regards to anti-bullying, healthy eating, behavioural support and inclusion (Spratt et al, 2006). Emotion regulation is a key skill for children to learn in order to cope with life and future interactions. Children learn how to react, relate and manage emotions based on interventions by adults and observations of others behaviour (McLaughlin, 2008). Mclaughlin (2008) states how ‘the emotional availability and sensitivity of adults in a child’s life has a powerful impact on the ability of the child to contain, regulate, feel, ignore and reflect upon feelings.’ This further emphasises the need for teachers to act as a role model and to demonstrate positive strategies and reactions to emotions, in turn providing children with the skills to apply this in their personal life. Emotional coping skills are learned behaviour from significant others and therefore teachers have the responsibility to lead by example as behaviours can be adapted and built upon to give children a better chance of success (McLaughlin, 2008).
The aim of this enquiry was to explore whether the use of a mindful journal would provide pupil’s the skills they require to independently regulate their emotions. A focus of this enquiry was to introduce pupil’s to a variety of mindfulness techniques and give them opportunity to undertake, discuss and reflect upon them.