Nicole Benson

Primary Teacher

Kildrum Primary

  • Health & Wellbeing

What Happens When I Introduce Mind Breaks in the Classroom After Lunch in Order to Improve Focus and Motivation?

Rationale

In Scotland, Curriculum for Excellence applies to all children and young people aged from three to eighteen. Curriculum for Excellence aims to enable all young people to develop and achieve; however not all children achieve the same academic success (Ellis, 2014). Research has provided evidence that the attainment gap already exists by the age of three years old and can continue to widen as children progress through school (Ellis, 2014). The Scottish Government have recognised that early intervention is paramount in order to ensure the right help is given, at the right time, from the right people in order to close the attainment gap (GIRFEC, 2008). Scottish teachers are therefore challenged with the responsibility to provide a nurturing environment in their classrooms to allow strong, trusting relationships to be built between the teacher, pupil, parent, school and community (GTCS, 2012). These relationships are key to identifying any barriers (Riddell, 2009) to a child’s health and wellbeing which can directly impact their attainment within education (GIRFEC, 2008).

A child or young person’s wellbeing is influenced by everything around them and the different experiences and needs they have at different times in their lives (GIRFEC, 2018). All children may need additional support at some point in their life and it is the job of professionals and parents to work collaboratively to help the child grow and develop to reach their full potential (GIRFEC, 2018). Even though all children’s wellbeing has the potential to deteriorate, there are some characteristics that deem certain groups as being more vulnerable to negative experiences. The Scottish Government (2018) recognise that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can create dangerous levels of stress and compromise on a child’s healthy brain development. ACEs have recognised bullying, poverty and living in a deprived area as other types of childhood adversity that can result in long-term effects on learning, behaviour, health and quality of life (Scottish Government, 2018). A study in Wales found that children that have more than four of these traumatic experiences are significantly more at risk both physically and mentally (NHS, 2018). Education Scotland (2019) stated that children with unidentified barriers are likely to experience low self-esteem, high stress, unusual behaviour and a lack of academic achievement. ACEs state that children with high levels of stress are unable to retain information in comparison to children with low levels of stress. This highlights the importance of teachers being able to identify these barriers and implement strategies so that children can regulate their emotions to overcome these barriers.

The National Health Service (2020) suggest a variety of relaxation techniques you can use to calm the mind and reduce the muscle tension that anxiety can cause. Research has found that a relationship with one trusted adult during childhood can mitigate the impacts of ACEs on mental health (Scottish Government, 2018), it is therefore paramount that teachers build these strong relationships so they can ensure children develop the skill set to be able to self-regulate their emotions to ensure that they are able to process and retain information during their learning journey.

Aims

The aim of this professional enquiry is to identify if the introduction of mind breaks in the classroom have an impact on the pupils’ mindset within the classroom. The study will focus on the transition from the playground to the classroom after lunch. The purpose of this enquiry is to gain a better understanding concerning the pupil’s perceptions of their ability to emotionally regulate using mind breaks. This information will be evaluated and used to inform my practice to ensure the learning environment is inclusive and supportive for all pupils.

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