When you think of PE in school, there is a good chance that you are going to envisage children running around, burning off some energy. Of course, this is part of it, however, PE in Primary school has so much more to offer than just developing physical health. It has the power to develop emotional wellbeing too and practitioners need to be aware of this.
For so many reasons, mindfulness is coming to the forefront of teaching. Mindfulness is a mental wellbeing approach that encourages you to become more aware of the here and now, rather than allowing your mind to wander. Mindfulness is concerned with being aware of one's thoughts and feelings, but also about focusing on what is happening in the body, what emotions you have and how you deal with those emotions. It is incredibly popular with adults. However, it also has huge benefits for children too.
It makes sense to work mindfulness into everyday classroom activities, but it can just as easily form crucial learning in PE. But how? Let’s take a look at the ways that PE can bring mindfulness too.
PE is a powerful outlet for feelings of stress
Growing up in todays’ world is harder than ever. It is a confusing, addictive era, with 24 - hour online access and in many cases limited opportunities for movement and release. With an estimated three children in every classroom suffering from diagnosable mental health problems, there is a growing need for schools to help tackle this issue. Teaching children how to deal with any stressful feelings they have is important for their future development, and with exercise being a proven stress reliever, PE is an obvious choice.
PE can be so much more than just a chance to play. It can improve feelings of mental wellbeing and even teach children coping techniques that they can use throughout the rest of their lives.
Sports themselves are a mindful activity
When you are competing in or playing sport, then you are completely in the moment. Most of us are competitive by nature and whilst it isn’t always something that is encouraged in children, being competitive isn’t always a negative thing either. If you are playing together in order to win, then you are going to want to try your best for the rest of your team. Not only does this keep you focused on the thing you are doing at that precise moment (a huge part of mindfulness) but it also teaches how to be co-operative and work together.
It teaches you about losing
Another key part of any PE activity and how it connects to mindfulness is losing. Whilst children will want to win, there is always going to be a losing team. Learning to lose is not always easy, however, it is an important part of life. Being able to deal with disappointment constructively is something that sport can really help children with. Teaching our future leaders how to think positively about the process and not just focussing on the outcome, is vital to their development as a whole.