Pupils at Derby Grammar School have received their certificates after completing a course of lessons focusing on mindfulness.
The idea to start teaching mindfulness was the brainchild of teacher Elizabeth Jackson, who had to train and practice mindfulness herself for six months before she could teach the course, which is called Paws B.
She said: “When I first started learning about mindfulness, I felt the benefits to my health and well-being straight away and I wished that I had been taught these skills when I was a child. So I started trying out some simple exercises with my class and they loved them! This year we have introduced mindfulness to the boys in the Junior School. Years 4 and 5 have completed their Paws B course, Year 6 have just a few lessons left and Year 3 will complete it in the summer.
“It’s been so successful that we are going to run a lunchtime club for Junior boys and an after-school club for Year 7 pupils as we plan to expand it into the Senior School.
“The course teaches them how to use their breath to focus their minds. They learn that the mind is like a puppy and it will naturally wander off but it’s about training them to bring it back which helps them to concentrate in class and tests.
“We learn about the different parts of the brain and what they do. We looked at famous sports people and the techniques that they use to focus. For example you can’t be wondering what’s for tea when you are in the middle of a World Cup penalty shoot-out and our boys could relate to that.
“All the techniques they learn can be built into their daily routines and a lot of them have said, that as a result of the lessons, they are feeling less anxious, they sleep well and they can concentrate better in class.”
Each week pupils learnt a new practice including focusing on the breath with one hand on their chests and one hand on their stomachs.
She said: “We talked about actually noticing the feeling of the breath and it comes into the body and feeling our feet on the floor which helps us to feel grounded. We also talked about doing things on autopilot and thinking more about being in the moment and living in the present, which children are much better at than adults anyway.
“I can see a big difference in the boys in my class and there are parents who said that they could see the difference straight away too.”
Iósaif Dickens, 10, said: “The lessons have definitely helped me. I went to the dentist with my mum and I was a bit scared but I used my breathing exercises to help me. In the car in the mornings we all do breathing exercises too.”
Musa Ali, nine, said: “I used to always ask someone to come upstairs with me. Then, I focused more on the present with my breathing and I can now go upstairs without anyone there. Usually when I’m going to sleep I keep opening my eyes but the breathing techniques made me more sleepy. I also used the breathing exercises to help me at swimming as I didn’t like going in the deep end of the pool but now I find it really easy.”