Mindfulness in Education
Children and teens today are faced with more demands on their attention than ever before. Increasingly, many of our young people experience stress and difficulties concentrating. But mindfulness has been shown to help. Learn here about how the MTAI is responding to this situation and find out about tailor-made mindfulness courses designed to support wellbeing among children and young adults and those who care for them.
The Role of the MTAI in relation to Mindfulness in Education
The MTAI supports the promotion of mindfulness for wellbeing in schools across the island of Ireland. Through the Mindfulness in Education special interest group, it encourages high standards of training for both teachers and those being taught. In addition, it supports trauma sensitive mindfulness teaching and ethical responsibility in its delivery. Moreover, the MTAI, seeks to raise awareness of the positive potential of mindfulness in school settings with various educational stakeholders. This includes encouraging such stakeholders to be better informed about what mindfulness is and is not and to support curriculum reform that reflects this new understanding.
A number of MTAI registered teachers are qualified to teach mindfulness in educational settings. Usually they have undergone specialist training with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), a UK based charity committed to the mental flourishing of children, young people and the people who care for them: teachers and parents. A small number of teachers may have undertaken other specialised training to work with young people or they may have designed their own teaching programmes.
Research Evidence for the Effectiveness of Mindfulness in Schools
There is a growing body of research that indicates that Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) in schools have a small to medium impact on a range of domains such as mental health, cognition, behaviour and physical health. The strongest impacts using properly developed curricula and well trained teachers has been in the areas of: child and adolescent depression, anxiety, stress, caring and compassion, emotional self-regulation and social and emotional skills. For a meta-analysis of the evidence base see: “The Evidence for Mindfulness in Schools for Children and Young People” by Prof. Katherine Weare
Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) in School Settings
Primary & Secondary Students
The Present for Schools
Mindfulness for 3-12 year olds
The Present for Schools offers a spiral learning programme for teachers and other school staff working with children aged 3 to 12 years old to introduce learning about mindfulness and well-being. Seven themes offer structure to invite curiosity, build awareness and mindful attitudes woven through everyday life in school.
Learning about the brain is offered through stories, connected to each theme. This learning may take the shape of short activities/meditations but may equally connect with everyday moments such as moving around school/the classroom, snack time or conversations with friends or connected with learning in the National Curriculum.
With recognition of the already full day in schools, this programme is woven through what already happens at school and need take no significant additional time. The programme meets many of the requirements for PSHE learning.
For more information go to: https://www.thepresentcourses.org/the-present-courses/
Mindup: an initiative of the Hawn Foundation
Mindfulness for 3-14 year olds
Based firmly in neuroscience, MindUP teaches the skills and knowledge children need to regulate their stress and emotion, form positive relationships, and act with kindness and compassion.
For more information go to: https://mindup.org
The following courses have been developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) a UK based charity, which promotes these courses internationally and is committed to ongoing independent research into their effectiveness. To find out more about MiSP go to https://mindfulnessinschools.org
Mindfulness for 7-11 year olds
Paws b is a twelve session mindfulness course for primary schools based on six themes that support wellbeing and teach mindfulness skills. It uses child-friendly visuals and film clips, offering bite sized mindfulness practices that children can practice at home or at school. It is usually taught twice a week over a six week period. For details about the Paws b curriculum go to https://mindfulnessinschools.org/teach-paws-b/paws-b-curriculum/
Mindfulness for 9 to 14 year olds or anyone transitioning to secondary school
.breathe is a short 4 lesson course that includes simple mindfulness practices with some theory, recent insights into the brain from neuroscience as well as aspects of social and emotional learning. For more information go to https://mindfulnessinschools.org/breathe/
Mindfulness for 11 – 18 year olds
.b is a ten session course for young people that teaches the skills of mindfulness and supports better mental health. It uses eye-catching visuals, video clips and activities that bring mindfulness to life for young people. There is also a dedicated website where students can watch and listen to guided mindfulness practices. It can be taught over the course of one school term. For details about the .b curriculum go to https://mindfulnessinschools.org/teach-dot-b/dot-b-curriculum/
Youthmindfulness: inspiring young minds is a UK-based charity recognised by both BAMBA (British Association of Mindfulness Based Approaches) and The Mindfulness Initiative. They offer mindfulness-based courses for both young children and teens.
Mindfulness for 7-11 year olds
The Youth Mindfulness Kids Programme is 16 one-hour lessons, featuring games, videos and activities that aim to make mindfulness fun and inspiring for 7-11 year olds.
It offers an in-depth introduction to mindfulness. It draws on positive psychology, elements from MBSR and the Plum Village/Wake Up schools approach. Mindfulness is explored along with gratitude and kindness.
Mindfulness for 12-21 year olds
Features over 45 different learning activities, grouped into 10 themes. It makes use of Powerpoints, audio clips, videos and mini lectures.
The Soma Programme aims to be a trauma-informed mindfulness-based wellbeing course for both teens and young adults. It involves both discursive and group methods that explore not only mindfulness but also, character strengths, gratitude, kindness, agency, meaning and purpose.
Teachers, Adults in the school community
Mindfulness for teachers, parents and those who work with young people
.b Foundations is an eight week training (which sometimes involves an initial taster session), designed specifically for teachers and adults in the school community. The intention is to support stress reduction and teach the foundations of mindfulness. Some participants may also complete this course as a foundation for training to teach either the Paws b or .b courses. The course is usually run for a school staff that has requested this training. The Sanctuary in Dublin https://www.sanctuary.ie/ , occasionally run this course for teachers and parents.
Mindfulness for teachers, parents and those who work with young people
.begin is similar to .b Foundations but is taught completely online using zoom video conferencing.
Mindfulness in Third Level Education
Mindfulness is becoming increasingly common in third level in the health services as a support to staff and students, but also as a key part of the curricula for numerous disciplines. Universities are now providing a range of mindfulness offerings to both their staff, students and alumni in the form of 8 weeks courses, weekly drop-ins, once-off workshops and short practices within lectures. Recently Cambridge University carried out a study (Mindful Student Study) with more than 600 student volunteers who took their 8 week mindfulness course and found that the course helped build resilience in their students and improve their mental health. Many third level institutes in Ireland including TCD, UCD, are now providing credited modules based upon the 8-week mindfulness stress reduction programme in order to encourage students from various disciplines to take the course as part of their programme rather than as an extra curricular activity.
Train to Teach Mindfulness to Young Children and Teens or to School Staff
If you are a teacher or work with young people and would like to train to teach mindfulness in a school setting there are currently two well-recognised options:
Paws b Teacher Training
Train to teach mindfulness to children in a school setting
Paws b Teacher Training is a five day summer course which qualifies for EPV days from the Department of Education and Skills. The course offers training in the delivery of Paws b to children aged 7-11.
.b Teacher Training
Train to teach mindfulness to teens in a school or youth club setting
.b Teacher Training is a four day intensive training designed to equip teachers and those working with young people to deliver the .b course to teens in school and youth club settings.
Both of these trainings are designed and facilitated by the UK based Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP). They are hosted in Dublin by The Sanctuary, who hold the sole licence in Ireland to do so.
If you wish to train staff in mindfulness for their own wellbeing the MiSP offer:
.b Foundations Teacher Training
Train to facilitate mindfulness for school staff & parents
.b Foundations Teacher Training 3 day training qualifies teachers to facilitate the .b Foundations course to school staff and parents. Normally, intending participants need to be already qualified as MBSR/MBCT teachers. For more information see https://mindfulnessinschools.org
For details of the research evidence for any of these courses please visit the Evidence page of the MiSP website: https://mindfulnessinschools.org/the-evidence-base/
Mindfulness and Wellbeing for Teachers (Croke Park Hours)
These are tailor-made workshops designed to respond to the particular needs of a school or college. These can typically range from a two-hour one-off session to a series of sessions run over a few weeks which allow staff to learn skills that can be practiced and developed over time. Stress management and developing resilience are often key components of these workshops. Please check the teacher listings to see which teachers offer this.