Pyschologist Aine Murphy has been teaching Drama and Creative Arts to young people for 21 years. Her focus is on using creativity to help young people understand emotions and relationships and also foster empathy and a wider understanding of the world. We caught up with Aine about her time working with our younger pupils at ESMS Junior School:
The children at ESMS Junior School and ESMS Nursery have loved exploring Mindfulness with me. Most recently the Nursery children have had a lovely time outside in the Scottish weather, exploring all their senses in nature. We have been lucky enough to feel the sun on our faces, blow bubbles in the wind, shout our names to the tops of the trees, notice all the colours of nature and listen to the sounds all around. The children have been practicing different kinds of breathing, stretching, enjoying stories and lying down to watch the sky.
The aim of each of these fun activities is to help children feel calm and relaxed, to understand and process their emotions and to develop empathy towards others. From the child’s perspective it is about feeling happy, strong and being a good friend.
Mindfulness can be hugely beneficial in times of transition. This transition might be moving from nursery to P1, or from self-isolation back to school, unexpected changes from day to day or change/disruption in family life. Mindfulness techniques can be an anchor for children at these times and the beauty of it is they are simple, they don’t cost anything and they are great fun!
Something to try at home
Dragon Breathing - great to use if you are in a mood! Stand tall. When you breathe in, pull your breath into your chest using both arms. Breathe out like a dragon breathing fire, making a big sound and putting your tongue out. As you do this push both arms out like you are pushing out your breath and your mood all at once. Do this three times and then see if you can stand really still, close your eyes and take some slow and gentle breaths. ( if your child has met me, ask them if they remember another way of breathing. E.g. shark, starfish, sunshine breath)
Noticing the rainbow - next time you are out having a walk or even in the car, go through the colours of the rainbow and see if you spot something natural of that colour. If you can’t see it in nature, then spot it in something man made.
Stop and listen - just stop. See if you can close your eyes. Count up how many different things you can hear. You might be surprised. Sometimes a quiet room has lots of noises we didn’t even notice.