Teachers, Schools 3 minute read

How mindfulness can improve student learning and achievement

The importance of incorporating wellbeing into the school curriculum is increasingly being recognised. While this is promising for young people’s mental health and wellbeing, it does leave teachers wondering how they can possibly fit everything in!

It’s rare (if not impossible) to find a teacher who has enough time in the day to meet the demands of the curriculum. Implementing a wellbeing program alongside the academic expectations that exist in schools can be a challenging undertaking.

With this in mind, we thought we’d share some of the ways in which the Smiling Mind Mindfulness Curriculum can help bridge the gap between wellbeing and academic achievement. Here is an overview of 3 of the topics (there are 20 overall) from our Mindfulness Curriculum together with an explanation of how they can help enhance student learning across all areas of the curriculum.

 

Using the Smiling Mind Mindfulness Curriculum to enhance student learning

Topic 1: Attention

Lack of attention in any classroom can leave teachers wondering what exactly they’re doing wrong. Is the lesson not exciting enough? Have I used enough technology? Do I need to wear a clown suit and do a dance next time? But with the plethora of stimuli that currently exist for young people, it’s not surprising that it can be challenging for teachers to sustain their students’ attention in the classroom. 

Attention is a critical part of learning as it lays the foundation for young people to develop fundamental thinking skills, such as problem solving, memory and perception. It’s important to understand that, rather than being a fixed ability, attention is a skill that teachers can help students develop.  

Research suggests that attention is a malleable quality that can be influenced by adopting certain practices such as mindfulness. Studies have shown that practising mindfulness regularly can actually change brain structure and activity. In particular, mindfulness strengthens the frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for attention.

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Topic 1 of the Mindfulness Curriculum provides teachers with clear strategies and prachelp students develop their ability to pay attention, teachers are giving young people an enormous advantage across all areas of learning.

 

Topic 2: A Growth Mindset

When two students with similar abilities show considerable differences in achievement, mindset is often found to be the differentiating factor. When students begin school, they can very quickly develop pre-conceived ideas about their level of intelligence and abilities in different subject areas. Having a fixed mindset can impact the way young people approach learning and consequently affect their academic achievement at school. 

Guiding students to develop a growth mindset is a vital precursor to ensure young people become effective learners. In understanding growth mindset, students become aware that their intelligence and abilities in different areas are not fixed; rather, they can change depending on effort.

Topic 2 of the Mindfulness Curriculum provides teachers with explicit lessons and mindfulness practices to help students develop a growth mindset. Once young people understand that their abilities and intelligence are not fixed, they can show marked improvements in resilience, motivation and academic growth.

 

Topic 3: A Curious Mind

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has certainly never hindered a young person in their pursuit of learning. Educational expert, Ken Robinson, suggests that curiosity is the ‘engine of achievement’ and one of the key principles that drives a flourishing human life.

While teachers are quick to recognise that a curious student will often show greater engagement and motivation, neurological studies have shown that curiosity quite literally helps prepare the brain for learning.

But rather than waiting for young people’s curiosity to be piqued, teachers can provide students with strategies to develop a curious mind. Topic 3 of the Mindfulness Curriculum teaches young people how to cultivate curiosity, which enables them to access a state of greater receptivity for learning.

Mindfulness helps students to approach new ideas and learning with non-judgement and openness - both key components of curiosity. Developing a curious mind is one of the most transferable skills a young person can develop and supports achievement across every curriculum area.

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Interested in discovering more about our Smiling Mind Mindfulness Curriculum?

With a further 17 topics the Mindfulness Curriculum, helps teachers feel confident that they are equipping students with invaluable skills that benefit not only wellbeing, but also academic development. 

If you’d like to learn more about using the Smiling Mind Mindfulness Curriculum in your school, contact us so we can help you get started.

Belinda Cupples

Written by Belinda Cupples

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