My Happy Place

Term: 3 Year: 2017

In a world where fast paced, multi-tasking and externalised living driven by “what’s next?” tends to dominate our daily landscape, now more than ever do we need tools and strategies that cultivate and awaken our inner world. The world of imagination, creativity, expression, stillness and dreams is just as important for children as it is for educators.

Mindfulness is a practice that can be defined as present moment awareness with acceptance, curiosity and wonder. It is a way of feeling, a way of seeing and a way of being. Mindfulness practices such as breath awareness and body scans help to trigger the relaxation response and decrease stress, as well as provide a space in our busy lives where we can close our eyes and tap into the boundless potential that is inside us. 

Too often our minds are trying to manage a constant stream of thoughts, and kids, just like adults, can be triggered and feel anxious and stressed by a variety of events and circumstances. Things that are happening at home or in the schoolyard can affect them and their ability to feel safe, valued and respected; all of which can impact their learning. It is vital that educators understand that when stressed, the brain of a child has limited ability to function, cognise, process, and store information. With the World Health Organisation predicting alarming rates of mental health issues, currently affecting one in four, and soon to be one in three children, positive stress management strategies are vital in creating resilient, confident learners, who feel they can engage with all the challenges and curve balls life can present. 

By equipping kids and ourselves with mindfulness techniques, we can learn how to allow disruptive self-talk and not feel defined by it. We can begin to shift our awareness to the present moment, and begin to foster a greater sense of curiosity and wonder for what is happening right now. This, as many great wisdom traditions acknowledge, is the art of living with meaning and purpose. With an open mind, comes an open heart, and qualities such as self-compassion, respect, tolerance, courage and kindness can be the byproduct of cultivated self-awareness – an awareness that doesn’t judge, ridicule or constantly want more. 

The 21st Century Classroom must focus on engaging, supporting and valuing the whole child – academic success does not equate to success in life. Our “Happy Place” isn’t just what’s around us, it’s how we feel and what is inside us.

Amelia Donnelly
Grade 2 Classroom Teacher
Auburn South Primary School