Over the past year, you may have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ in your social media browsing or in health care facilities. It is the latest buzzword in mental health research and based on the surmounting positive evidence, it doesn’t appear this new approach is going anywhere.
A school in Baltimore recently made headlines for their non-traditional solution to behaviour issues. Instead of punishing disruptive kids or sending them to the principal’s office, the school has something called the ‘Mindful Moment Room’ where students are encouraged to meditate, calm down and ‘re-centre’. More and more educational services are realizing the need for alternative options as the traditional, more isolating punishments are no longer effective.
Today, students are facing a mental health crisis, confronted with more stress, anxiety and bullying than ever before. According to an article in The Globe and Mail, “a fifth of Canadian postsecondary students are depressed and anxious or battling other mental health issues, according to a new national survey”.
Kris McCrady, a mindfulness coach and OCT qualified teacher explains how “as a student, you will have many things competing for your attention: your friends, your teachers, family, homework, your phone etc.” With all of these pressures, it is difficult for students to juggle it all!
So what exactly is ‘mindfulness’? How can being mindful help students cope with educational pressures like homework and exam anxiety?
Beyond the Classroom sat down with Laurel Crossley, a local life coach with over 20 years of family coaching experience, to find out. Laurel has worked with hundreds of families solving personal issues such as anxiety, worry and stress and educates students on how to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into their academic routine.
According to Laurel, mindfulness can be defined as “living and working in the present moment – not concerned about the past or worrying about the future”. It also involves creating a space to allow for quiet, purposeful reflection.
Laurel points out that incorporating mindfulness as a parenting strategy can also produce amazing results, especially with homework, which is often a struggle between parent and child.
According to Laurel, practicing mindfulness as a parent:
• Allows you to remain calm during stressful parenting situations
• Can improve a parent’s overall health and well-being including lowering blood pressure, improved sleep, alleviating parental worries and anxieties which in turn, lowers child worries and anxieties
Laurel makes a good case for showing how even adding a little mindfulness can go a long way, as seen with her own children. She reveals how mediation “helped her son focus before embarking on his homework” and that it helped her “daughter with test/exam anxiety”.
Exactly how can parents incorporate mindfulness and meditation into their children’s homework routine?
Laurel shares her top 3 tips for making homework time less stressful for both parents and kids!
• Tip 1 – Create space in your home for mindful homework sessions. Please note that each of your children may require a different type of space (one may enjoy quiet; one might need music, etc. depending on their learning preferences)
• Tip 2 – Prior to starting homework, start with a focusing meditation. During homework completion, if you sense frustration, allow the child to get up and move around and then continue with a calming meditation – even deep breathing constitutes meditation
• Tip 3 – Choosing the “right” parent for homework “supervision” is critical i.e. the one that is the calmest and doesn’t allow the “homework emotions” to affect them. If this doesn’t work, maybe an older sibling or a local tutor might be an option
Kris McCrady also points out that “one of the keys for being mindful is to give your full attention to one thing at a time. Whatever it is you are doing, give your fullest attention to that one thing.” Being mindful can certainly help our kids deal with the stress of homework – one step at a time!
Beyond the Classroom is pleased to provide our families with a complimentary pre-homework meditation created exclusively for students by Laurel Crossley. Have your child listen to this audio file prior to getting started with their homework. It’s a great way to get them to feel calm, focused, settled and ready to work!