Lifestyle

Mindful of kids coping with stress

BEING MINDFUL: Blakebrook Public School students Sam Essery, 8 and Josie Pruess, 7, ring bells while the director of Mindfulness in Education Bobbi Allan (centre right) and teacher Lois Skorjenko (centre left) practise some mindfulness techniques with the K-3 class.
BEING MINDFUL: Blakebrook Public School students Sam Essery, 8 and Josie Pruess, 7, ring bells while the director of Mindfulness in Education Bobbi Allan (centre right) and teacher Lois Skorjenko (centre left) practise some mindfulness techniques with the K-3 class. Cathy Adams

It is one of the great ironies in education, says US holistic physician Dr Amy Saltzman, that dozens of times every day teachers tell their students to 'calm down and pay attention' yet never teach them how.

A handful of schools in the Northern Rivers, however, are addressing this paradox with mindfulness training, which aims to teach the simple, powerful skill of paying attention to one's inner and outer experience to reduce stress and wellbeing.

Far from a classroom fad, mindfulness draws on research in contemporary neuroscience, education, social and emotional learning and meditation.

Bobbi Allan, Director of Lismore-based organisation, Mindfulness in Education, says increasingly Northern Rivers educators are finding that mindfulness lessons are as beneficial to learning outcomes as the three R's.

"Good mental health habits such as taking a few mindful breaths to calm down should begin when children are young. They're as important as the habit of learning to clean your teeth after meals. Mindful breathing and learning to relax and focus your attention are great mental hygiene habits that will last children a lifetime.

"Students of all ages may come to school with stressors arising from many sources including family problems, peer conflicts, learning difficulties and physical and mental health problems. Combined with the challenges of learning and achievement, these sources of stress can sometimes make it more difficult for students to pay attention and recall information.

These small pioneering steps towards mindfulness in education by a handful of Northern Rivers schools cannot be underestimated, given the startling statistics regarding mental illness and learning outcomes.

By age 14, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness are already apparent while three-quarters have their onset by age 24.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show mental illness rates are as much as one-third higher in people who have not completed secondary school. Being able to enjoy school, and cope with stress, is one of your best indicators for success.

Bobbi adds, "Research shows that too much stress is bad for the developing brain. Sustained stress in childhood and adolescence lowers well-being, general functioning, and factors specific to learning such as executive function and working memory."

"The school-based programs in the Northern Rivers which were introduced in the last two years are already showing positive results. Teachers learn simple mindfulness practices and lead them in their classrooms several times a day, for a few minutes. These frequent short mindfulness practices strengthen attention and stress-reduction pathways in the brain."

Blakebrook Public School, just outside Lismore, has adopted the mindfulness lessons, and already its impact has made positive ripples throughout the school.

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. The training included an introduction to the MindUP program, a school mindfulness developed by educators and neuro-scientists for the Hawn Foundation, which was started by actor Goldie Hawn.

"We started by introducing Mindfulness in small ways," said Louise. "The children responded very positively, so in Term 3 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."



Lismore mayor in court over AVO bid

Mayor Isaac Smith is seeking an AVO against a Lismore business owner.

Isaac Smith seeking AVO against Lismore business owner

TIMELINE: Short story of rail on the Northern Rivers

NEW RAILWAY: Casino train station circa 1903 when railway came to town.

An historical look into the rail line on the Northern Rivers.

These chicks are cooking up a creative crafty storm

Lismore Country Women's Association members taking part in a handicraft and cookery competition show off their aprons entered in the display category.. L-R Maureen Murray, Bev Payne, Robyn Stewart, Annie Law, Dayla Mills and Larraine Wallace.

Chicks with attitude are baking and crafting all over

Local Partners

These chicks are cooking up a creative crafty storm

FAR North Coast CWA (chicks with attitude) members have been preparing their best baking, sewing, quilting, knitting and crafting ahead of stiff competition.


Damien Leith follows Roy Orbison's music path

Singer Damien Leith. Supplied by Hot Off The Press.

Singer brings the music of his idol to the area

'Goodnight City, I'm Martha'

COMING SOON: Martha Wainwright is a Canadian-American folk-rock singer-songwriter.

Singer songwriter brings her latest tour to NORPA

Cheer Up, the king of Hard Chat is coming

ICON: Australian comedian Tom Gleeson will be  part of the Lismore Laughs 2016 NORPA program.

This show is 91% truth, but.. can you guess what is not?

Damien Leith follows Roy Orbison's music path

SINGER brings the music of his idol to the Northern Rivers

These chicks are cooking up a creative crafty storm

Lismore Country Women's Association members taking part in a handicraft and cookery competition show off their aprons entered in the display category.. L-R Maureen Murray, Bev Payne, Robyn Stewart, Annie Law, Dayla Mills and Larraine Wallace.

Chicks with attitude are baking and crafting all over

'Goodnight City, I'm Martha'

COMING SOON: Martha Wainwright is a Canadian-American folk-rock singer-songwriter.

Singer songwriter brings her latest tour to NORPA

Liddiard brings his solo show

Australian musician, Gareth Liddiard.

Liddiard is an Australian musician and founding member of The Drones

'I wasn't naked': Blanca Blanco speaks out

Blanca Blanco arriving at the 89th Academy Awards. Picture: Ian West/PA WireSource:AAP

"It was a nude colour, it matches my skin, so I wasn’t naked.''

‘IT’S A LITTLE SAD’: Trump makes Oscars bungle all about him

US President Donald Trump claims Hollywood's elite were too busy mocking him to pay attention on Oscars night.

Donald Trump ‘explains’ Oscars stuff up.

Lama and Sarah’s ‘epic’ MKR fail

My Kitchen Rules contestants Lama and Sarah.

Tempers flare as Lebanese feast turns into an epic fail.

Casino boss loses $4m on waterfront Sunshine Coast home

The owner of this stunning Noosa home accepted much less than he had initially wanted for the home.

When illness struck owner forced to try and cash out of property

Mining homes dive: $600k homes sell for $120k-$300k

18 Yeates Street, Moranbah sold for $135,000 in December, after being repossessed by a bank. The owners bought for $545,000 in August, 2011.

The economy still has two speeds, but with a painful twist

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!