Young people’s difficulties in paying attention in class or lectures, and in being able to manage their emotions in stressful situations, are of concern to teachers, parents of learners and the learners themselves.
Mindfulness in Schools programme
We believe that mindful-based strategies can assist young people to increase self-compassion and compassion for others, and help them to regulate their emotions and behavior.
Our Mindfulness Programmes are based on the internationally recognized UK based organization, (MiSP) Mindfulness in Schools Project. Having completed the MiSP Paws b and .b training in London, Cailyn is licensed to offer these programmes in South Africa, and has adapted them to suit our local context.
The MiSP Paws b and .b programmes have been crafted by classroom teachers and mindfulness experts in the UK, and are subject to ongoing research and evaluation. Each lesson is expertly crafted for use in the classroom to teach a distinct mindfulness skill.The materials are designed to engage even the most sceptical of young minds.
The courses run for 6-8 weeks and consist of 40 minutes to 1 hour weekly sessions. Training can be done with a class teacher present, in order to facilitate carry-over into the classroom. Teachers’ manuals are provided and an initial talk for parents is offered. The practical teaching is combined with visuals, film clips and activities that make learning enjoyable without losing the integrity of traditional mindfulness teaching.
Overview of Paws. b content (8-11 yr olds):
Session 1: Our ‘amazing brains’ and how mindfulness can help them.
Session 2: Team Brain members
Session 3: Calming our brains
Session 4: Helping our story-telling brain
Session 5: Caring for others
Session 6: Putting it all together
Overview of .b content (11-18 year olds):
Session 1: An introduction to mindfulness (using a World Cafe approach)
Session 2: Our brains and how mindfulness can help them
Session 3: Recognising worry
Session 4: Be here now
Session 5: Moving mindfully
Session 6: Befriending the difficult
Session 7: Taking in the good
Session 8: Putting it all together
Each of the sessions in both programmes incorporates simple mindfulness practices that children/teens and teachers are encouraged to implement during the following week.
‘When you have been teaching for a long time, you gain a certain idea of what children are capable of and what information they can digest. But this mindfulness programme for me, blew that out of the water because they retained all these big terms and new ways of meditating. I have had mindfulness charts on the wall but hadn’t tried it with them because I wasn’t sure they would be able to be quiet for this long. Seeing it unfold, and the energy shift from when they came into the room to when they left, was very encouraging.’ Nicolette De Klerk , Grade 5 teacher.
Our aim is to develop a language of character strengths that parents, teachers and learners can apply in all contexts of their lives. If people can identify and apply strengths to a particular situation, they can build a sense of their own identities, apply their strengths at the right time, in the right place and to the right degree, and also acknowledge and celebrate the strengths of others.
Lynn and Cailyn have completed training courses through the VIA Institute in the USA, and have being running character strength workshops locally. The VIA Institute in the USA is implementing the research on character strengths, and many overseas schools are introducing strengths based programmes based on their work.
Psychology has historically focused on what is WRONG. Positive Psychology, a sub-discipline of psychology, builds on this by focusing on what is RIGHT. Character strengths are pathways to the universal values of wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. These are essential individual characteristics which, collectively, build a strong and compassionate society.
Developing a language of character strengths allows people to consciously apply their unique blends of strengths to suit a particular situation.
Our Character Strength programmes include:
- Leadership initiatives at a junior and senior school level
- Teacher programmes
- Parent programmes
- Strength-based initiatives for emerging adults at a tertiary level
- Whole-school programmes
The programmes vary considerably in terms of depth and range; from a 4 hour workshop introducing the language of strengths, to long-term whole-school strength-based initiatives. Core content includes:
- Understanding the theory behind strengths work
- Identifying personal character strengths
- Strengths spotting in others
- Identifying hot-spots and triggers
- Determining team profiles
- Exploring strength application
‘When it comes to our character, each one has been endowed with unique strengths. We become aware of it, learn to identify and acknowledge it in each other. More importantly to embrace and to celebrate it in each other as well as in the learners.’ Marilyn Kayster, Grade 7 teacher.
‘This journey has taught me to do things in a new, different and exciting way. It was an opportunity to enhance top strengths and to create ways to discover new ones in oneself and others.’ Desiree Williams, Grade 0 teacher
Customised talks, workshops & journal groups
We are passionate about the theory and applications of Positive Psychology as they provide people with a language that allows them to flourish. Psychology has been able to define so much of what we struggle with, but the language of what makes us strong as individuals, families, schools and communities is often lacking.
We are experienced at giving talks and running workshops at universities, schools, education departments and community organisations. In each we explore the aspects of Positive Psychology that apply to a client’s particular setting and circumstances, and provide people with an optimistic and meaningful way to approach life’s challenges.
Examples of workshops
- Netiquette – workshop for L.O. teachers on managing social media.
- Moving minds – workshop for Physical Education teachers on the importance of exercise for the developing brain.
- Emerging Adulthood – talks and workshops held at universities, community organisations and smaller groups, aimed at helping students to understand and navigate ‘Emerging Adulthood’, which has been defined as a new developmental life stage.
- Journal groups which provide an introduction to Positive Psychology.
- Individual parent sessions on interpersonal neurobiology, based on the work of Professor Daniel Siegel
We are privileged to have worked with St James Primary School in Kalk Bay over a 3 year period. The mission of the school is to ‘create a loving, secure, disciplined and dynamic God-centred environment’ and our programmes have been designed to build on this mission in practical ways.
This has involved implementing a whole-school strength-based programme that has consisted of:
- Initial staff training and subsequent regular meetings to embed strengths
- Grade 7 leadership training
- Whole school implementation (Grade 0 – 7)
- Teacher responsibility to embed strengths work in the curriculum, assemblies and extra-curricular activities
We have also run a 6 week MiSP (Mindfulness in School project) with their Grade 5 learners, and hold retreats for staff on an annual basis.
‘The strengths journey has been magnificent, the highlight being able to discover our own strengths and concentrating on them to bring out the best in oneself and others.’ Victoria Manjengwa – teacher