Back to school: How mindfulness can ease the transition from holiday to classroom

Back to school: How mindfulness can ease the transition from holiday to classroom


Mindfulness Meditation in the Classroom


The more present and mindful you are with your children, the more happy, mindful and resilient they will be.  Mindfulness is now being incorporated into the classrooms across the US.  Let's bring mindfulness into the home through mindful techniques, meditation and yoga. 


Meddy Teddy




Have you ever read a book and realised you have no idea what you've just read?

This is a classic case of not being in the moment, but it can be overcome with the regular practice of mindfulness.

Many families are easing the transition from holidays to school routines by practising mindfulness, the modern meditation technique of quietening the mind and bringing attention to the present.

Craig Hassed, an associate professor and mindfulness coordinator at Monash University, says mindfulness is basically awareness and paying attention to being in the moment.

He says living without awareness is like living with the lights turned off and not being able to see what's ahead of us — what he calls a state of mindlessness as opposed to mindfulness.

"You're there in person, but your mind is elsewhere. We trip over ourselves and it's hard to plan and move with purpose," Dr Hassed said.

The benefits of mindfulness include improved attention and memory, reduced stress and better health. It can even lower disruptive and bullying behaviour in schools.

Helping kids be in the moment

Dr Hassed says there are two key reasons mindfulness is so important for kids.

"Firstly when we're not mindful it is very easy to slip into worry mode and get anxious about the future or the past. Our thinking becomes vulnerable to worry and rumination," he said.

"Kids who are getting anxious about school are often worrying about a future that hasn't happened."

How to be mindful

  • Don't multi-task: focus on what you are doing at any one the time
  • Avoid distraction: practise being in the present moment
  • Limit screen time especially social media and gaming
  • Practise regularly until it becomes a habit


The other key reason for kids to practice mindfulness, according to Dr Hassed, is that if a child cannot engage their attention effectively they will not learn well.

"Children who have a poor ability to engage and sustain attention at four are 50 per cent less likely to graduate from college at 25."

Dr Hassed says the great enemies of mindfulness are multi-tasking and distraction, by-products of too much screen time, particularly in children.

He says students who have a few minutes of mindfulness practice prior to a class will understand more and retain more information, and are more likely to engage with their study right across the board.

Making minds smile

Australian not-for-profit organisation Smiling Mind, in partnership with ABC Radio, has developed a series of guided mediations to help families and teachers learn mindfulness.


Smiling Mind chief executive Addie Wootten says teachers acknowledge the start of the school year is a hard time to get kids to focus and meditation helps to bring back focus, attention and calm.

"Often there isn't much structure during the school holidays. There can be a lot of stimulation," Dr Wootten said.

"Going back into a classroom setting with new kids and perhaps new teachers is absolutely a time to practise mindfulness."

She says recent research shows practising mindfulness provides kids with the capability to make better decisions and provides self-awareness.

"We found after practising mindfulness there were big improvements in the quality of kids' sleep, improvements in behaviour and engagement at school, as well as children's safety at school."

"Teachers reported their classrooms were much less disruptive and there was less bullying."

Putting it into practice

Dr Hassed says there are two main ways you can practice mindfulness.

Formal practice is taking the time to sit and meditate in a quiet space, closing eyes and using techniques to focus on the breath or scan attention over the body.


Informal practice is what we do throughout the day as we go about our lives — making a coffee, washing dishes, eating, or walking from A to B — while being mindful of our actions, paying attention to them, and not being on auto-pilot.

Dr Hassed says the best thing parents can do to help children adopt mindfulness is to commit to the practice themselves.

"The more present and mindful you are with your children, the more happy, mindful and resilient they will be," he said.

Dr Wootten recommends parents make it fun, and practice as regularly as possible until it becomes part of a family's weekly or daily routine.

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