South-African children from disadvantaged backgrounds are often at risk in terms of long-term poverty, mental and physical health ailments as well as access to poor education. The latter of which is of uttermost importance towards ensuring access to future prospective opportunities. The question is: in an educational context tainted by disruption and disorganisation, how can we help children to apply themselves wholly, to ensure that they do their best, and be the best that they possibly can be, educationally, mentally and emotionally?
Mindfulness practices are beginning to be more fully recognised in their capacity to benefit children physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually not only at school, but in everyday life. At its core, mindfulness is about being fully aware of the present moment with a disposition of kindness and curiosity. Paying attention to the moment through visualisation, mindful walking, meditation, breath-work and yoga are all ways in which children can become presently embodied and grounded.
Research has shown that such practices, integrated into everyday school life or life in general, can benefit children in terms of having better focus, decreased hyperactivity, improved academic functioning, enhanced immune-functioning, increased self-awareness, decreased stress, better conflict-resolution skills, enhanced feelings of calm, increased emotion-coping skills and enhanced feelings of empathy (Mindful Schools, 2010), to name but a few!
Thus, within educational contexts of disruption and disorganisation, daily mindful practices integrated into the curriculum can help children to feel more grounded and centred in meaningful ways that may help them to overcome future challenges in more effective ways.
Check out these resources for introducing mindfulness to children: