Contemplative practices in the Reception classroom: the perceptions of seven pupils on a series of PSHE inputs.
Improved psychological wellbeing has been reported for adults and older children (aged eight to eighteen years) undertaking various programmes of ‘mindfulness’ and ‘contemplative practice’ (e.g. Irving, Dobkin & Park, 2009). This research explores younger children’s views on a series of short breathing exercises that were adapted from Snel, (2014) on Mindfulness- based Cognitive Therapy. Mixed methods - drawings and semi-structured post-input interviews - were used in order to assess the impact of the breathing exercises on a group of (7) children aged between four and five years. Placing perception centre-stage highlighted a range of positive results on these individuals’ affective states. Recurrent themes included: relaxation, happiness, focus and (increased) memory and self-awareness. These findings tentatively support the integration of contemplative practices into early years Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE) programmes, in order to pre-emptively address childhood anxieties that might otherwise negatively impact learning (Grills-Taquechel, Fletcher, Vaughn & Stuebing, 2012).