The kids are totally zen: Meditation at Ipswich school helps pupils find inner peace
PUBLISHED: 16:31 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:45 25 November 2019
Few parents would expect school to be the place where their children find inner peace. But pupils at this primary in Ipswich really have discovered a zen-like calm - as part of a radical bid to strengthen their defences against mental ill health.
Ravenswood Community Primary School was acutely aware that young people face will face huge pressures in life, potentially putting strain on their psychological wellbeing.
So as well as teaching them literacy and numeracy, the Ravenswood Avenue school has made its new mental health programme a cornerstone of its lessons and activities.
Teachers' over-riding message is for pupils to "find your inner Olympian", meaning that they are mentally prepared for the challenges life may throw at them - both during their school years and adult life.
It includes learning about how others, such as soldiers coped with some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable during the First and Second World Wars.
But they also start the week not with maths or English, but 10 to 15mins of meditation - so they can "bridge that gap between whatever happened at the weekend".
Headteacher Karen Mills said: "We're raising awareness of positive mental health.
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"We're trying to work on the strengths that they can go to when all else fails. It is probably one of the biggest and most important things a school can teach children.
"You're often faced with difficulties in life. We live in a world where people want things very quickly, but when things don't happen rapidly in the real world that can leave us feeling very disjointed and unhappy.
"It's about children reflecting that whatever setbacks they experience are a normal part of life.
"In this world we can focus on the negative too much. We need to focus on the positive in our own lives."
The 2019/20 academic year will be based around different topics related to mental health to give youngsters a sense of the "different kind of strategies you need".
This term, for example, focuses on resilience - with some Second World War veterans visiting the school on Armistice Day to show "how people coped in a very different time".
Mrs Mills said that would be particularly important in the run-up to Christmas, which she said can be a "lovely but busy time, that a be fraught with a lot of other things".
Ravenswood Community Primary also hopes to pass some of the messages onto the children's parents.