The lifestyle of children nowadays is one of high stress and pressure. This can be in the form of peer pressure, pressure to achieve academically, stress from an unsettled home life and, perhaps the most worry, is the stress and pressure placed on them by social media and their interactions therein. Many of pupils enter class already in a heightened state of stress. In this state it can be very difficult for them to focus and be able to properly process the learning taking place within the classroom.
Within the cohort of S2 pupils subject to this enquiry, are many who have experienced a number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The effects of ACEs on brain development has been studied extensively in recent years, Kindsvatter and Geroski (2014) identified that the “development and function of the stress response system may be altered by early life stress”. This could mean that what the teacher views as poor behaviour may be a pupil’s inability to regulate their stress response and the more they are exposed to these adverse experiences the stronger these altered stress responses can become (Bath 2005).
Children affected by ACEs must spend more time than others trying to moderate their behaviour. If they are doing this they may be less likely to focus on the actual learning and teaching that is taking place within the class. Children can however, learn how to self- regulate by partaking in co-regulation with a caregiver or, in this instance, a teacher. (Narvaez 2010). The more exposure students have to mentoring, with regards to emotional regulation, the more likely this is to provide a benefit not only in their lives currently and within the classroom; but also into their adult lives.
In reaction to this discovery the practitioner carrying out this enquiry looked for positive ways to support these pupils (and all pupils within my classroom) in regulating their behaviour and ways in which to reduce the need for punitive measures.
Relaxation techniques were selected as a way to redirect their focus as there has been extensive literature produced on the subject such as Kraayenbrink et al (2018) and Morgan (2018). It is hoped that by giving the pupils the tools to moderate their own behaviour that they will begin to self-regulate and focus on learning can be increased.
The aim of this enquiry is to identify if the introduction of relaxation techniques in the classroom has an impact on the focus of the class and in their overall mind-set within the classroom.