Improving the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s learners is a key objective of the Scottish Government and lies at the heart of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). The Scottish Government’s CfE aims to “place health and wellbeing at the centre of school life” (Bryce et al, 2013). It is acknowledged that if a child suffers from inadequate health and wellbeing, academic outcomes can be adversely affected (Bogden, 2000). This also encompasses emotional and mental health and wellbeing. Thus, Health and Wellbeing as a curricular area has been awarded equal status as Maths and Literacy as a priority area.
One method in which emotional/mental health and wellbeing is being addressed in primary schools is through mindfulness-based intervention strategies (MBIS). Mindfulness has been defined as “the psychological capacity to stay wilfully present with one’s experiences, with a non-judgemental or accepting attitude, engendering a warm and friendly openness and curiosity” (Zenner et al, 2014). In a bid to fulfil the government’s priority for increasing emotional and mental health and wellbeing in the classroom, and to improve psychological outcomes for children, the use of MBIS has increased in popularity. Various studies on MBIS have evidenced a reduction in stress and an increased sense of well-being (Davidson et al 2003).
This enquiry sought to investigate one such mindfulness-based intervention, namely a daily, mindfulness journal, to determine what impact, if any, this had on a primary classroom and whether or not it use impacted positively on children’s experience at school.
The aim of this enquiry was to determine whether implementing a personal, “Mindfulness” journal (used as a MBIS) within a primary classroom would have an impact on the overall atmosphere and ethos of the class and on the pupils. The intention was to provide children with an outlet to commit their feelings and emotions to paper, while encouraging children to develop an awareness of their own thoughts, with the hope of subsequently improving emotional health and wellbeing outcomes. The hypothesis is that mindfulness journals may have a positive impact on children’s abilities to listen, concentrate and participate in school in the afternoons, owing to an increased sense of wellbeing and relaxation as a result of practising a mindfulness-based intervention strategy. Furthermore, the investigation sought to discover what, if any, impact of said journal would be on children’s overall ability to concentrate, listen and participate in the learning activities of the classroom, specifically in the afternoon, after lunch.