Devenish Primary School’s Smiling Mind Champion- Beth McCully
At Devenish Primary School, we are devoted to not only the academic success of the students but also to their general well-being. The Smiling Mind program focuses on the idea of mindfulness and spending some time each day being aware of what’s happening in the present moment.
There are two parts to this definition:
- The first is the part about attention. Learning to focus attention on one thing and bring the attention back to that one thing when the mind gets distracted by thoughts, feelings, or something else in your environment. It’s the opposite to being on automatic pilot. Our mind and body are connected.
- The second part is about the attitude you bring to paying attention – being open, non-judging, and curious about your experience. We are practising non-reactivity, being at ease with what we are experiencing at any time, be it uncomfortable emotions and thoughts or pleasant ones. These attitudes of mindfulness helps us to sit with the uncomfortable. Mindfulness is not about making things go away but learning to be with the experience and watch it come and go.
Practising mindfulness strengthen areas of the brain that control ‘executive function’ – the mental skills that help us get things done i.e. paying attention, organizing, planning, initiating tasks and staying focused on them, regulating emotions, and keeping track of what you’re doing.
By teaching mindfulness skills in our classrooms, we are teaching students HOW to pay attention.
As part of our school-wide “Smiling Mind” Wellbeing Strategy, a mindfulness practise is embedded in our Health and Personal Social Capabilities lessons. Teachers also take part in mindfulness to model good mental health and wellbeing practices.
We also have an embedded practise of writing in Gratitude Journals in our Friday afternoon Health and Personal Social Capabilities session. Staff are expected to model this practice by writing in their own Gratitude Journals.
Studies show that when an individual is feeling grateful, it’s impossible to feel any other emotion at the same time.