Meditation and yoga classes ‘improves grades’ of primary school pupils

Mail Online: Council’s wellbeing consultant insists classes are ‘not just some hippy idea’ and aid concentration.

Lying down in a circle may seem like a rather unusual way to run a lesson, but teachers say meditation and yoga has helped hundreds of primary school pupils to improve their grades.

The nine to 11-year-olds are taught to ‘channel their energy’ once a week in a class that focuses on relaxation and breathing techniques

During the one hour sessions pupils from across Essex are also taught a series of beginner yoga positions designed to improve their mental health and well-being.

Teachers involved in the trial scheme have reported significant improvements in the concentration and grades of their pupils as a result of the classes.

Dave Read, 52, a former history…

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teacher who now travels Britain teaching the session to children, believes yoga and meditation aid education.

He said: ‘The workshops are about emotional literacy and getting pupils to make contact with their feelings.

‘The response from the children has been phenomenal. They say they have never felt so relaxed and they want more sessions.

‘I teach the children visualisation and breathing techniques. And I train the teachers so they can continue the work – even if it is just for a few minutes each day.

‘This is not airy-fairy it is ultimately about improving concentration and grades. Children are under increasing pressures and this gives them support.’

Tess Boyes, Health and Wellbeing consultant at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, which is leading the project, believes relaxed children achieve more.

She said: ‘This is not just some hippy idea. The schools that have taken part have really benefited. This is a completely different approach to education.

‘The programme aims to develop resilience, emotional wellbeing and good mental health through innovative interventions.

‘These techniques are well-documented as effective ways of supporting the emotional well-being of young people in reducing stress and anxiety, and avoiding associated health risks.

“As this is a pilot project, we are monitoring it very closely, but early indications show very positive results and it is proving very popular with headteachers and young people alike.” The Targeted Mental Health in Schools project was first introduced by the Labour Government in 2008 to boost the mental health of schoolchildren.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council applied for £20,000 of the Government money to teach yoga and meditation to pupils at ten primary schools across Essex.

Teachers involved in the project believe the one hour sessions, which are taught once a week, help to calm down boisterous classes and improve learning.

Groups of around ten children learn a variety of beginner yoga positions whilst also being taught to control their breathing using meditation techniques.

The scheme, which is run by the company Yoga Bugs and could be rolled out across the country, is designed to improve the emotional health and well-being of pupils.

Helen Reeder, deputy headteacher at Thorpedene Infant School in Southend, Essex, revealed that the new classes have made a “difference”.

She said: ‘It is supposed to be calming for them and we have seen a difference in the classroom.

‘Thirty of our children take part in sessions each week and really enjoy it. The boys enjoy it as much as the girls.’

Angela Hutchinson, headteacher at Bournemouth Park Primary School in Southchurch, Essex, added: ‘It has really made a difference.

‘We have done some work with Year 5 and Year 6 on channelling their energy through their thought processes – getting them to be aware of themselves and how they are learning.

‘We do some yoga with the younger children which teaches them how to find their own space. The children think it is fantastic.’

Another part of the programme involves a ‘coolfire’ session where children are taught how to control their breathing in a bid to calm boisterous classes.

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