Pupils taught self importance in Northamptonshire school mindfulness sessions

Sheena pictured leading a class of six in her mindfulness session on Wednesday (November 21) at Yardley Hastings Primary School.
Sheena pictured leading a class of six in her mindfulness session on Wednesday (November 21) at Yardley Hastings Primary School.

Thirty minutes each week is being set aside for Year 6 pupils to evaluate their self worth and esteem.

Yardley Hastings and Denton Primary School Year 6 pupils have been taking some respite from traditional academia in turn for half-an-hour weekly mindfulness sessions to refocus their attention on themselves and their happiness.

Jacob pictured hanging a thoughtful message on gratitude tree.

Jacob pictured hanging a thoughtful message on gratitude tree.

The sessions, which started in September, were brought about by Sheena Tanna-Shah, of Inspiring Success, who qualified as a neurolinguistics practitioner eight years ago.

The mum-of-two started up her company, aside from her work as an optometrist, after she battled anxiety and insecurity following her school years and the practice of mindfulness and meditation has helped her to lead a happier life.

She said: "I'm really passionate in teaching this to the kids and allowing them the space to feel awesome but also for them to have the techniques that they can use to be still, relax, not worry about yesterday or tomorrow but enjoy the now.

"I want them to know that they may not be able to control the changes or circumstances surrounding them but they can absolutely control how they react to them.

Children are asked to write a message each session for the gratitude tree.

Children are asked to write a message each session for the gratitude tree.

"I always start the day with mindfulness with my girls and end with three things they were grateful for.”

One student said he practised meditation before bed time to help him sleep while another said she does it when her brother winds her up.

Sheena said the rise in pressures among school children are caused by social media and action packed programmes.

"It's so much more different to what it used to be 15 years ago," she said. "Their programmes are more action packed and they have social media going on, they are super busy and stimulated.

Finley pictured deep breathing. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Finley pictured deep breathing. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

"There is the pressure of lots of clubs and classes after and before school or weekends, often because parents feel pressured to put kids in classes.There is less freedom to simply play without structure and routine. Classes and clubs are great but it just seems now children's timetables are more jam packed.

"Mindfulness and meditation helps us to be still and enjoy even the simplest things. Therefore some of sessions include mindful eating and mindful walks."

Sheena's sessions change weekly but this week, a group of six children from both schools, learned how to meditate through sound and each child wrote a letter of thanks to themselves listing the things they love about being them.

Executive head of both Yardley Hastings and Denton, Louise Brown said 100 per cent of children feel better after Sheena’s sessions.

Louise said: "At the moment we only do it for Year 6 pupils and the impact has been huge.

Pupils wrote a letter of gratitude to themselves which Sheena is going to send back to them to receive in the post.

Pupils wrote a letter of gratitude to themselves which Sheena is going to send back to them to receive in the post.

"We are going to roll it down to the rest of the school because it has been so well received by the year 6s - they are the group that has been dealing with the most pressure. I think it's important that we give social and emotional learning a place in the curriculum - it needs a place just as much as the academic subjects.

"We had some lovely comments from parents evening telling us that the children were using these techniques at home."

Sheena has also rolled the scheme out to Cogenhoe Primary School for students, teachers and parents - she can be contacted by other schools at sheena@inspiring-success.com.

Kate and Grace pictured deep breathing.

Kate and Grace pictured deep breathing.