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Lcis mindfulness2

By Michela Mantani, La Côte International School

Across the globe, one of the hottest topics in education at the moment is whether we should be teaching our children how to manage their emotional state and be in charge of their own wellbeing. In Asia meditation classes are on the rise to help students cope with stress levels and develop emotional resilience, while in Great Britain recent statistics have shown that an average of 3 children per classroom have mental health issues ranging from anxiety to burn-out, which may lead to low-level disruption.

As our youngsters lead increasingly stressful, over-planned lives, screen time and excessive stimulation have also been linked to the rise of mental disorders in children. The burning question on every educator’s mind at the moment is, without a doubt: “What can our schools do to help students regulate their emotions and improve their daily interactions with others?”

In recent years, a growing number of scientific studies have underlined the benefits of mindfulness exercises for students, based on solid evidence relating to the impact of mindfulness on adults, as well as encouraging indications on the positive impact that a regular practice of meditation and breathing techniques can have on children and young people.

According to Morges-based Mindfulness teacher and coach Jenny Ebermann (www.brainbreak.ch), the positive effects of regular Mindfulness practice in children include improved attention and concentration, but most importantly a greater ability for self-regulation. If we can teach young children to recognise, understand and identify their emotional states as they unfold, we would be able to help them develop a set of invaluable life skills to equip them for any future challenges they may face. Ultimately, isn’t this what education is all about?

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At La Côte International School in Aubonne the benefits of teaching Mindfulness to primary school students have quickly become apparent since launching the programme in 2016. Mindfulness practice now forms an integral part of the school’s Personal and Social Health Education curriculum.

“We are working proactively to support our students in their social, academic and emotional development” says Alison Piguet, Head of Primary at La Côte International School “Studies reveal that students are more motivated to learn in a caring environment and, as a school, we are committed to offer an integrated approach to their social and emotional development.”

Annette Ebbinghaus, Founder of TrulyBalance (www.trulybalance.com) in Coppet, shares simple Mindfulness exercises you can try at home with young children. Each exercise is about turning off the autopilot and turning on our awareness of the present moment.

  1. Slow down and be mindful: turn off your phone and your computer, focus on the present moment you are sharing with your child.

  2. Mindful eating: this is an easy exercise all children enjoy. Focus on each one of the five senses before you start eating. Notice how your body responds to the smell of food, notice the texture as you place it on your tongue, then only at the end, bite into the food and notice the flavour.

  3. Take a “breathing break”: when emotions run high, bring the awareness back to your breath. Close your eyes, slow your breath down and notice how many breaths you take in 1 to 2 minutes.

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If you are a parent of teenage children, you can still practice the same exercises but also include other activities that will help your adolescent learn how to be non-judgemental, present and grateful.

  1. Plan time together: leave your phones behind, choose an activity you both enjoy and do it with presence and gratitude. Being able to express gratitude for small and big moments in life is a great gift we can give our teens.

  2. Give your teens responsibility: this could be any helpful activity for the family, ask them to do so in a mindful manner. Try not to criticize their efforts.

  3. “Surf the wave”: when negative emotions take over, teach your teens to focus on their breathing and let their thoughts roll like waves. Be non-judgemental, let the thoughts come and go without engaging.

Author's bio

Michela Mantani jan 2018 200

Michela Mantani joined La Côte International School as Communications Manager in 2017. Passionate about education and the impact that different learning styles can have on a child’s learning journey, she has been researching and writing about the various educational options available in the Lake Léman region since relocating here from London in 2008.

Michela obtained a First Class Honours degree in Modern Languages and Literature from the University of Florence before moving to London to start her career in publishing, where she also gained her TEFL (Teacher of English as a Foreign Language) Certification.

Originally from Italy, Michela is a Geneva-based freelance writer, blogger and mum to three children. Before moving to Switzerland in 2008, she worked at the BBC for many years as a TV Distribution Executive and at the Laura Ashley headquarters in Fulham as Product Development Technologist.

A CIM-certified professional, she's a design, food and travel enthusiast who tries to involve her children in everything she does. Since moving to Switzerland, she has taken up snowboarding, stand-up paddle and very much enjoys the outdoor lifestyle the Lake Léman region can offer.