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It Takes a Village To Raise a Child

 
As adults, when we think about the people we like to be around, we find we like people that;
·         Take turns to talk
·         Listen and learn from others
·         Talk respectfully
·         Get along with others
·         Are a ‘good sport’ when they win a game  (not rub their victory in someone’s face)
·         Accept when they lose a game or argument without sulking
·         Encourage us to do our best
·         Praise others when they are successful
·         Are able to calm themselves when faced with challenges
·         Are able to focus on a doing a task and finish it – even if there are distractions
In order to have adults that do that - the whole community need to work together to help encourage those behaviours by modelling, teaching and praising when we see those positive behaviours in children (and adults).
Throughout the year at Mareeba State School I will be assisting teachers to support a range of students and classes.  This will involve developing skills in Mindfulness to help them handle academic and social challenges.  The support may range from whole class to small group or individual sessions.  In Term 1 in preparation for NAPLAN testing the  years  3 and 5 classes will be engaging in mindfulness and guided meditation activities.                                                                
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of our thoughts, feelings and actions in the present moment rather than worrying about what might happen or being angry about what has happened.  When we are mindful of our thoughts, feelings and actions we are better able to stay calmly focussed and grounded and be less reactive and stressed.  
There is a relationship between mindfulness and meditation, self-regulation and academic achievement. When we are able to relax and focus not only does this reduce anxiety and stress but allows better responses to our own feelings and self-management of behaviour. If students can reduce stress, they self-manage better and are more likely to be able to learn and remember what they have learned.  The benefits of mindfulness and meditation:
·         Harvard neuroscientists found that meditation actually grows the areas of your brain in charge of self-awareness, compassion, learning, memory, and emotion regulation, and shrinks the areas of the brain associated with stress.
·         Mindful people and meditators have stronger immune systems, miss fewer days of school because of illness, and are able to produce significantly far more antibodies to the flu vaccine than non-meditators, according to a study done at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • Mindfulness and meditation have the ability to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and 163 different studies have suggested that mindfulness helps alleviate stress and anxiety.
  • Meditation significantly reduced anxiety in 90% of subjects with clinical levels of anxiety. 90%!
  • People who meditate can more easily focus and control their attention, even when distraction was present.
Mindfulness and meditation is a way that we can work together to develop skills to help raise our village of wonderful children to be the kind of teenagers and adults we’d like to have around us.                                                                
Mindfulness activities done with Year 3 and year 5 classes:
·         Awareness of need for deep breathing to calm our brain and body
·         Awareness of early (physical) warning signs to cue us to take deep breaths
·         Awareness of how our thoughts and actions are connected
·         Development of focus skills  
·         Development of acceptance skills and positive ways to deal with our thoughts about our challenges.                                       
 
- Jo Jones Laifoo  (Mareeba State School – Guidance Officer)