Association of Mindfulness With Education
Continuing with the journey in support of social and emotional growth for early adolescent learners, recently Indian Schools in Sharjah transformed a windowless room, previously used for in-school student suspensions, into a “Mindfulness Room”. This safe space is used for their middle school students to reconsider choices while learning to decompress, reflect and engage in multiple mindful and sensory-based activities.
Revisiting the use of traditionally punitive disciplinary environments in schools in Sharjah is a growing development and one supported by a wide body of research. The need to include greater mindfulness curriculum and interventions to support middle school students who struggle with social, emotional and behavioural challenges is widely supported by the body of academic literature in the fields of education, psychology and law. As schools and administrators rethink zero-tolerance policies regarding student discipline, the need to support adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence is apparent.
Some researchers describe the environment of mindful moment rooms, “The room looks nothing like your typical windowless confinement room. Instead, it’s filled with a floor lamp, decorations and luxurious purple pillows. Mischievous kids are encouraged to take a seat in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them cool down and re-centre. They are also requested to talk through what changed.”
The UAE government has generously funded a grant to create an environment more conducive for our early adolescent students as they engage in deep reflective thought, especially when confronted with, and often overcome by, social and emotional stress. Recently, school guidance counsellors and middle school administrators have witnessed a rise in adolescent anxiety, and stress in students, which at times can manifest itself through school avoidance and increased disciplinary infractions to the student code of conduct. Moreover, middle school learners are also now faced with social media based challenges and the need to develop pro-social coping strategies is more apparent than ever.
Minding Your Mind has defined the term ‘mindfulness’ as follows and also outlined health benefits of implementing mindfulness techniques, Individuals who practice mindfulness often find it helps facilitate focus and attention.
A growing body of research involving neurosciences shows many benefits of mindfulness:
• Better focus and concentration
• Better grades
• Better behaviour in school
• Better social skills
• Increased sense of calm
• Decreased stress and anxiety
• Enhanced physical and mental health
• Improved impulse control
• Increased emotional regulation
• Decreased frequency/severity of post-traumatic symptoms
• Lower rates/severity of depression
• Enhanced empathy and understanding of others
What is Mindfulness Education?
Mindfulness education is precisely what it sounds like: the determined inclusion of mindfulness and mindful meditation philosophies, theories and practices into education.
The aim of the mindfulness education is to benefit students to learn:
• Techniques to calm and focus the mind
• Mindful communication
Applying mindfulness skills to everyday life The creation of a ‘Mindful Moment Room’ in Best Indian Schools in Sharjah, complete with curriculum and resources is expected to address other non-disciplinary related needs. This newly redesigned space can also be used as a concussion recovery room to support students with recent brain injuries as they transition back to a full middle school schedule. The mindful room is also an ideal location to conduct faculty-supervised student-to-student mediation in times of social difficulty. Additionally, guidance counsellors have expressed the need to hold student lunch groups in a small group setting and the room could also be used to support this practice.