Our school is currently working to implement the ‘5 a Day for Mental Health’ concept, which was put forward by Jigsaw, as part of the Mental Health Awareness Initiative. We currently provide opportunities for all our pupils to get their 5 a day at school, in the following ways:
- Connect: children have time with pupils with similar interests during sports training, music group practice, green school meetings, friendship groups on the yard, buddy reading, station teaching and our group reward systems.
- Be Active: through BOWOW, football and handball training, yard basketball and hula hoops/skipping ropes, soccer on the pitch for classes 1st – 6th, swimming lessons, yoga classes and activities during Active School Week
- Notice: all students from junior infants to 6th class take part in daily mindfulness lessons for a six week term each year. Parents are now also provided with a list of resources to encourage them to practice mindfulness at home. See below for more.
- Get Involved: the children take responsibility for how the school operates through green schools and active school week committees, the running of our school egg company, giving feedback on station teaching and other initiatives, collecting data for BOWOW and writing reports on school events.
- Give: we are involved in a number of charity events such as the Cheerios Childline breakfast, SVP Christmas hamper appeal, SVP clothes collections and donating to a charity of the children’s choice following Communion and Confirmation. The children also give their own time by helping younger children on the yard in friendship groups, taking care of our school hens and vegetable garden, keeping the PE equipment tidy, helping to organise the school library and taking responsibility for the recycling and compost bins in all classes.
We have also had speakers come to the school to discuss topics like cyber bullying and internet safety with children, parents and teachers, but we would like to build on this by having different speakers to open up the discussion on wellbeing further. Many thanks to all the school staff for giving up their time for these and other activities for the benefit of the pupils. Our pupils’ wellbeing is at the heart of everything we aim to do in this school and it is something we will be working on continuously.
Mission Possible; School Achievement Awards
Our school was shortlisted for St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services pupil wellbeing awards, for implementing the Jigsaw 5 A Day approach to enhance pupil wellbeing for the last two years in school. Click here to view our evidence. On Friday 28th April 2017, a number of pupils, parents and teachers attended the awards ceremony in St. Patrick’s University Hospital where the school was commended for the work that is in place.
A six week course in mindfulness takes place in St. Patrick’s N.S. every day in every classroom between the February mid-term and Easter break. We are very fortunate to have Ms. Duignan, a qualified meditation, yoga and mental health practitioner co-ordinating the programme in the school. She begins each module with training for the school staff and a plan of activities which are age appropriate for class levels. The programme has expanded each year, mainly due to the positive feedback from pupils and staff and now includes links for pupils and parents to practise at home.
A large number of studies have indicated that mindfulness is strongly associated with greater well-being. It has also been shown to increase attention span and problem solving skills, improve emotional regulation and how children (or adults) relate to themselves and others -their sense of compassion has also been shown to develop with daily practise. Mindfulness is also effective in reducing levels of anxiety and worry.
Mindfulness meditations online
This website provides programmes for children and adults, including breathing, meditations for sleep and mindfulness for stressful situations. Subscribe or create a school account for full access. Some meditations, like sleep stories are available with a free account.
This free and fun website for children has a number of channels which can help children with exercise and movement as well as meditation and reflection. The channels ‘Flow’ and ‘Empower Tools’ have mindfulness meditations, while ‘Maximo’ has yoga practices and ‘Think about It’ encourages reflection.
Annaka Harris is a mindfulness teacher and she offers a number of her recordings for children for free on this website.
This Irish company have created lovely mindfulness CDs for children which are available to buy on this website.