Alongside Literacy and Numeracy, Health and Wellbeing is one of three core areas outlined in Scotland’s national curriculum, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). It is the responsibility of all staff to teach Mental, Emotional, Social, and Physical Wellbeing. As well as this my school has identified health and wellbeing as a priority with a focus on mental health and wellbeing within the school improvement plan (SIP). This currently manifests itself as a whole school activity that takes place every day after lunchtime. Pupils come back into class and each class engages in a mindfulness activity. In my class this takes the form of a guided meditation using pre-recorded instructions. This involves a period of time where the lights are switched off. Pupils are encouraged to focus on their breathing and to avoid physical or mental distractions. In my class the children are given the option of lying on the floor or resting their head on their desk. My class have taken part in this since they began their time at primary school.
Prince (2017) argues that mindfulness practices within the primary classroom helps children to develop transferable skills that support their mental health. National Health Service (NHS) (2018) explains that mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment while also accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Further to this, Prince (2017) states that mindfulness has several positive benefits including stress relief, mental focus, deepening social skills, greater self-esteem, emotional control, and improved decision-making skills. An audit carried out by Audit General for Scotland (2018) and The Accounts Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health states “Children living in low income households are three times more likely to suffer mental health problems than their more affluent peers” (Audit General for Scotland and The Accounts Commission, 2018). Many of the children in the class are living in SIMD 1, 2, and 3 areas and as such there has been a focus in the school on promoting positive mental wellbeing. NHS (2018) state that “paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.” Therefore, using daily mindfulness practices can help support the mental wellbeing of the children in the class.
From observations the class teacher has found that the children in the class lack focus in the afternoon following lunch breaks. The aim of this enquiry is to determine if guided meditation has an effect on the focus of learners following lunch breaks.