Mindfulness lessons being trialled in Fife schools to boost pupils’ wellbeing

© George McLuskie
Louise Smith.

Primary school pupils in Fife are being offered mindfulness lessons in a move to boost their mental health.

Four schools in the region have signed up for the Do-BeMindful Initiative, which includes exercises on breathing and listening, as well as strategies for managing emotions and improving relationships with others.

Louise Smith, who leads the initiative, said mindfulness had the potential to raise attainment in schools by nurturing children’s ability to focus their attention – a life skill she described as fundamental in learning

She said: “This is not an airy-fairy thing. It is backed up by scientific evidence.

“Initially the research was all about adults and mental health, looking at mindfulness as a way of helping with anxiety and depression.

“Then there was a move to looking at how mindfulness affects young people, and the benefits were pretty phenomenal, and it is all evidence based.”

She added preliminary sessions with children affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder had shown positive results.

“Our Do-BeMindful learning resources were specifically developed based on our belief there is a gap in the field of mental health and wellbeing education,” said Mrs Smith.

“First, for children in primaries four to seven we’ve created our eight week Do-BeMindful Explorers Programme. For teachers and parents and carers who are often not well supported in terms of caring for their own emotional wellbeing we’ve developed the Do-BeMindful Foundation Programme.

“The Foundation Programme takes them through their own self-care, showing teachers and parents and carers how to build their own resilience and emotional wellbeing.

“What is quite unique is that all the parents belonging to the school get access. The reason for opening it up to parents is there’s a huge focus on closing the attainment gap in Scotland. Kids from poor socioeconomic areas are the ones who perform worst in school.”

Jacqueline Price, acting head of Fife Council’s education service, said: “We know that young people can face challenges growing up and emotional health is not separate from their general health and wellbeing.”