IF A PIN drops on the floor, the 45 children in the K-2 class at Blakebrook School want to hear it. Eyes closed, listening intently for the 'secret sound', many of the children know instantly whether their teacher has dropped a pin, a pen or something else.
The 'secret sound' listening game is part of the mindfulness program recently adopted at the school outside Lismore.
Teachers Louise Tate and Lois Skorjenko have received training in Mindfulness for Primary Teachers, run by local trainers Bobbi Allan and Shakti Burke from Mindfulness in Education. "We started by introducing mindfulness in small ways," Louise said.
"The children responded very positively, so in term three last year we started to implement the MindUP curriculum in K-2 and 5-6 classes.
"Now it's being implemented across the school, with the support of our new principal, Allan Duroux.
"Even the littlies are interested in learning a bit about how their brains function.
"The core mindfulness practice is to begin with attentive listening to a gentle bell or chime rung by the teacher, followed by a minute or two of calm, focused breathing which quickly settles anxiety, over-excitement and other emotional states, and so prepares the mind for learning. We repeat the core practice several times each school day. Students learn that these practices help them to be 'the boss of their own brain'," Louise said.
"About half the children took to the breathing practice straight away, and the others have had to work at it. At first it was hard for some of them to understand 'doing nothing', but now they all like to lie on the floor and relax their bodies."
Year 5/6 children give it the thumbs up too.
"Yes," said a girl, "It's peaceful and afterwards I'm able to concentrate on my work without being distracted easily."
Louise added, "They love the conversation we have afterwards about what's happens in their minds."
"I'm very enthusiastic about the program and the results I can already see with the children", Louise said. "You can ask a child if they are being mindful of how they are interacting with another child, and you can see them pause and reflect on what they're doing. They're more aware of when other people are having a bad day."
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