YogaBears, Yoga & Mindfulness for primary years is now being taught in primary schools across the UK.
The UK government has acknowledged that mental health support for the younger generations are underfunded and under resourced.
The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run.
In Dec 2017 the EIF released a report titled Social & emotional learning: supporting children and young people’s mental health.
Here is a snap shot of this report;
"There is a widely held view that more and more children are experiencing mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and conduct disorders."
- In 2004 (the last national prevalence survey), nearly 10 per cent of all children and young people aged between 5 and 16 in England and Wales had a diagnosable mental health disorder.
- In 2016, 90 per cent of secondary school headteachers reported that they had seen an increase in rates of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression among their pupils over the previous five years.
- The Children’s Society’s latest research into children’s wellbeing shows that children are less happy than they were in 2010.
- A National Study of Health and Wellbeing (a survey of 9,500 children and young people, conducted by NatCen and ONS on behalf of NHS Digital) is currently underway and expected to report in 2018. The results will give us a more up-to-date picture of the mental health of children and young people.
Poor mental health in childhood is associated with a number of negative outcomes in later life, including poorer educational attainment and employment prospects.
- Mental health problems in young people can result in lower educational attainment (for example, children with conduct disorder are twice as likely as other children to leave school with no qualifications) and are strongly associated with behaviours that pose a risk to their health, such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse and risky sexual behaviour
The report believes that,
Social and emotional learning is a critical part of the solution.
Social and emotional skills, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making, are fundamental to children’s health, wellbeing and future success, including their educational attainment.
Emotional wellbeing and self-esteem in childhood are strongly associated with good mental health in adulthood. Children’s social skills, self-control, self-regulation and self-efficacy also appear to be important to adult mental health and wellbeing. Like cognitive capabilities, social and emotional skills are malleable. They can be taught and developed throughout childhood, adolescence and beyond. Research also indicates that some social and emotional skills lay the foundation for later skill development. Skills learned in primary school act as building blocks for more complex skills learned throughout secondary school.
The report believed schools play a central role in children and young people’s social, emotional and academic development. Engaging in effective social and emotional programmes is associated with significant short- and longterm improvements for children and young people. The report stated that there is a substantive body of international evidence to indicate that high-quality school-based programmes focused on social and emotional development are associated with significant improvement across the emotional, social, behavioural and academic domains. In addition, they have been proven to reduce the risk of negative youth outcomes, such as antisocial behaviour, crime, substance misuse and mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Children with stronger social and emotional competencies
At YogaBears we believe Yoga & Mindfulness at school can help support a young persons social and academic development, so much show we created our own school’s programme.
At YogaBears we began our school program with Elly.
Elly once a school teacher joined YogaBears in 2016 when she completed her first yoga teacher training course with us. Elly’s story whilst unique in its genetics tells us how powerful within the school environment can be, here is Elly’s story below.
YogaBears School Programme
The Curriculum for Calm
All children are special and each is different from the next. One quality that most children share is the disinclination to sit quietly in one place for hours at a time. Yet this is the premise of our education system.
Throughout the day teachers ask the children to sit still, be quiet, listen, pay attention and settle down. Exasperated parents ask their kids why they can’t control themselves. If only they could take a deep breath and relax for one minute!
And this is sound advice.
But where in a child’s day do they learn these skills? How do they learn to attend, be still and calm down? Where in the school day is the instruction for relaxation?
Yoga teaches children how to control their bodies, how to breathe, how to focus and how to relax. It provides instruction, practice and reward.
YOGA is in fact, a curriculum for calm.
YogaBears Five Ways To Improve Wellbeing
Evidence Suggests there are five steps to improve or mental wellbeing
- Connect – social contact encourage children to develop good relationships and connect with the people around them such as: family members, friends, neighbours, classmates, teachers and school staff.
- Be Active – physical activity and regular exercise have positive impacts on children’s moods and emotions. Encourage children to find an activity they enjoy doing and make it a regular part of their routine.
- Keep Learning – Active Minds Learning a new skill can give children a sense of achievement as well as experiencing positive emotions. Encourage them to consider activities such as learning to play a musical instrument, solving puzzles, joining after school activity clubs, etc.
- Self-care and relaxation – be mindful, talk to the children about appreciating the present moment, their thoughts, body and the world around them. It’s important for children to have good sleep routines, as well as taking time to relax by doing something they enjoy such as reading a book or watching a film
- Give to others – be kind, getting involved in social and community life can help children to gain a sense of fulfilment. Children that are encouraged to enjoy greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.
The YogaBears Mindful Classroom
- Mindfulness helps us create space between a strong emotion and our actions.
- We learn to deal with positive and negative experiences more calmly and by making better decisions.
- When we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, we can respond in a more clever way, without hurting our own feelings or the feelings of others.
- It helps us to be non-judgemental and able to let things go.
- Mindfulness in the classroom helps children regulate their behaviour and focus on learning
- It helps them to develop concentration and focus on the moment
- Research shows it supports children with ADHD, AUTSIM and Trauma
WHAT ELLY SAYS…
YogaBears bespoke schools programme can include whole class yoga sessions, yoga therapy for children with additional needs, small group/one to one session for personal, social and emotional needs, growth mind-set and mindful activities.
I have worked with lots of different groups of children so my day as a YogaBears teacher is really varied and I liaise with the school before starting and work out a timetable that is going to meet the individual needs of each school, so not one size fits all.
Some examples of this are:
I work closely with children on the lead up to SATS usually 20-minute sessions in the classroom looking at different methods to feel calm and relaxed and have received such positive feedback from both teachers and children on this.
I work in small groups or one to one sessions with children with additional needs using techniques to centre the children and learn how to control their bodies, how to focus and how to relax.
Working with groups of children on PSHE development (low self-esteem etc.}
Working with targeted children who don’t engage in many sports activities.
What do the Children say??
- I love yoga it makes me feel so calm and ready to face anything.
- Yoga has made me feel a lot more patient especially with my brother.
- I love how yoga makes me feel my favourite postures are the balancing ones as I have to really concentrate on my balance and strength and feel so good after a lesson.
- I’ve never really liked many of my PE lessons but I love yoga it’s a great way to exercise and get fit all over.
- I love all the breathing techniques Elly has taught us this really helped keep me calm when I was doing my SATS I especially loved the mountain breath I use this all the time and have taught my family how to do it too.
- I always used to worry about what others thought of me and didn’t have that many friends. Elly has taught me its ok to be me and I like that im me now.
I really enjoy my one to one sessions with Elly she makes me feel really calm and relaxed and is really easy to talk too.
WHAT DO THE PROFESSIONALS SAY?
- The main difference I have noticed from the children is Elly’s ability to make the children open up with their feelings I wish we could have her in every day.
- Elly has a real passion for her job and it comes across in every session she takes the children for.
- The children have thoroughly enjoyed their Yoga sessions, every day they ask me is it Yoga today Miss? I have loved how inclusive it is for all ages genders and abilities.
- Elly worked with a small group of children each week and built up great rapport with each of them. I particularly noticed a difference with some of our ADHD pupils noticing they were a lot calmer and used some of the techniques she taught them back in the classroom.
- The children loved the YogaBears teddy’s and how they had super-powers this really helped to explain to the children how they are all special in their own ways.
- Elly has had such a positive impact on our children especially during SATS time the children were so much calmer and it was visible in the results.
Do you want to bring Yoga to your school?
YogaBears is currently running 1/2 Day Training that will give teachers skills that can be adopted in the classroom and during PE that include both the physical and mental aspects of Yoga.