Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards news
Schools play an important role in developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes in young people needed to manage stress, build resilience and a strong sense of identity. Practicing mindfulness has a significant role in improving mental health.
The mandatory K–10 PDHPE syllabus acknowledges the link between a healthy lifestyle and positive mental health. Students reflect on the challenges that confront people at various stages of life and appreciate that these may provide unique opportunities for personal growth. They also reflect on, discuss and develop skills that strengthen their resilience, and explore the characteristics and qualities displayed by resilient people. Mindfulness is a valuable skill that can be used to enhance resilience.
Mindfulness is about people training themselves to pay attention in a specific way. When a person is mindful, they:
- focus on the present moment
- try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in the future
- purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
- try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (ReachOut 2015).
In PDHPE K-6, students explore:
- how positive health choices can promote wellbeing
- positive health practices
- strategies for dealing with life changes
- ways they communicate, cooperate and care for others
- cultural influences on a sense of self, nutrition, physical activity and a young person’s decisions.
In PDHPE Years 7-10, students explore:
- factors that influence a sense of self
- how thoughts can affect feelings and behaviour, and strategies to manage unhelpful and unrealistic ways of thinking
- understanding mental health and how to help yourself and others
- the role and impact of stress on health
- a range of positive management strategies to support good health
- skills that enhance resilience, eg. problem solving
- support services that are available and skills to access health information, products and services.
To complement the PDHPE curriculum, schools also run programs to help Year 11-12 students cope with stress. In Department of Education schools, this is done through the Crossroads program. The Crossroads syllabus suggests content and resources explicitly designed to address resilience, mental fitness and positive wellbeing. In Catholic and independent schools, these areas are usually addressed through pastoral care or wellbeing programs which can include workshops on mindfulness, time management, study techniques, and the importance of nutrition, sleep and physical activity in managing challenging and stressful times.
For more information relating to mindfulness, visit the following websites:
- International Positive Education Network: Boosting Wellbeing in the Classroom
- Kids Matter
- Mind matters
- NSW Kids and Families
- ReachOut Professional. Mindfulness in the classroom
- R U OK
- Smiling mind
Free apps available to download:
- Greater Good in Action, University of California, Berkeley
- The Guardian: Introducing Mindfulness in the Classroom
For more information, contact:
Senior Curriculum Officer, PDHPE