One of the boys in our class has difficulty processing information and gets quite flustered at times. In the past when he has become worked up it can escalate and he can become quite unresponsive. I have seen him a number of times, eyes closed deep belly breathing. He does this on the mat or wherever he is at the time. The class were worried at first when they saw him like this but since I have explained what he is doing, they give him the space he needs, and he is soon back with us in his smiley state. This has become less and less frequent and I truly believe it was the tool he needed to take control of his emotions and spiralling thoughts. Early this year we had a lockdown at school. The doors to the classroom were locked and we were all sitting down low on the carpet unsure of exactly what was happening outside. The children were scared. A few were crying, and I was trying to keep everyone clam. At one point there were about 4 police officers that ran through the back toilets connected to our classroom. That’s when I heard a child say “Let’s do some mindfulness to calm us down.” So, there we all sat, taking some deep mindful breaths in the middle of the chaos happening outside. It really did help us all. We had been doing mindfulness in class quite regularly. The children were enjoying it. It was the morning of our school athletics day and a boy in my class was feeling very anxious about how he was going to go in his races. As we were all piling out the door ready to head out to the field, he started pleading with me to do a class mindfulness session to help him relax. We didn’t have time to do a formal mindfulness meditation, but we were able to talk about some mindfulness techniques could do to manage his nerves while he was waiting for his race. I thought it was great that he could recognise his emotions and saw mindfulness as a way to help regulate how he was feeling. I had a student who was very nervous to do her maths assessment. The previous term she had cried during testing. This time she did very well and hardly seemed nervous at all. Later she told me that prior to the test she had taken a moment to practice her mindfulness and was able to calm her nerves.

Fiona McAree – Deputy Principal at Bairds Mainfreight Primary, Otara, Auckland

Mindfulness is certainly having an impact at Baverstock Oaks and complementing our Restorative Practices.  All 4 Senior Leaders who attended the training have a class that we have worked with this term.  We have 3 Y4/5 classes and 1 Y2/3 class.  Each week on the Friday we meet to go over the following week’s lesson.  We have a PowerPoint for each lesson and a modelling book so the class can look back on what we have discussed and done in previous lessons.  This week we have completed Lesson 6 which was our favourite.  We love the way each lesson links back to what they have previously covered.  The class I am working with are really embracing mindfulness as are the parents.  A parent stopped in the drop off zone the other week and thanked me for all the things her son is learning in mindfulness and sharing with his family. The class I am working with the other day used mindful movements breathing circles prior to their weekly 5-minute basic facts test.  75% of them did their best score ever. One class created this video about their mindfulness training and this was only after a few lessons.

Genée Crowley – Principal, Baverstock Oaks School, Auckland

By the end of week 1 a calm had descended across the school. In week 2 we noted boys that would normally take their anger out on others walking away in the playground and allowing themselves to cry. This week we have seen higher levels of focus on what we are learning right now.   We are very very pleased so far with the implementation of this special project, everyone is on board. Yesterday I visited a class to do some Pausing myself. It was such a privilege and made me feel proud that we have made this move to be a Pause Breathe and Smile kura. It is early days yet, and we have decided to run a 1-year research project on this programme to ensure that our journey is recorded and perhaps could help others.  Next week we will be sharing some breathing techniques with our whanau who are keen to know more.

Billie-Jean Potaka Ayton – Principal, Kaiti School, Gisborne

If I could pass a law and if there was one thing I could do to change New Zealand forever, it would be to teach mindfulness to every kid in every school in this country. That would be the one thing that I would do. I would put mindfulness-based training into every school in New Zealand and the difference that it would make would be vast.

Nigel Latta – Psychologist, Author and Television Show Host

The children have just taken this totally beyond my expectations. When it is mindfulness time they are ready and focussed and fully engaged. Totally ready to try anything with an open mind. Initially I had some concerns with the senior students and the idea that they came into it with negative ideas that it was silly, uncool, what was the point etc. but they have changed these attitudes and it astounds me that not even one child is disengaged.

Mariella Brunton – Classroom Teacher, Waitetuna School, Waikato

As you probably know, on Sunday night Christchurch had another earthquake in the middle of the night. On Monday I was in a PBS class whose houses were in the street of the epicentre! While it was only our third session this is what these children were saying…. “I used my mindfulness – I took some breaths and felt more calm / I was able to fall back to sleep / I helped my sister do mindfulness to feel calm too / I did mindful touching of my blanket and felt calm / it helped me to feel safe” “I am grateful – that my family are safe /  that I slept through it / that I had a table to hide under / that I had parents to cuddle / that I could fit into my dog crate where it was safe / that I could sleep with mum and dad / that my house stayed up” These are just a brief taste and echo many of the conversations in classes this week. What I (and teachers) noted was the children’s ability and willingness to talk about their feelings, having a language to describe what was happening in their bodies, their spontaneous use of breathing and touching as calming anchors, and their orientation to all that they are grateful for. PBS is very relevant to these kids in Christchurch and helping us all through shaky times.

Ann Hugget – Clinical Psychologist and Pause, Breathe, Smile Facilitator, Christchurch

It is rare in education to do professional development that benefits the teacher's wellbeing. It's usually always about the children. Teachers are so important and this PD really valued that. Mindfulness aligns with everything I love. I was engaged all day and am enjoying using the practices I learnt, daily. Our staff really enjoyed it and are excited to begin next week with the students. I'm really excited about implementing PBS at Manuka and I will be giving a big shout out to you guys at my next Principal's meeting.

Deborah Barclay – Principal, Manuka School

We teach kids all kinds of stuff. We teach them things like using their manners, how to brush their teeth, how to cross the road safely, and how to read and write. When they get older we teach them about sex and sexuality, and driving cars, and financial literacy, and trigonometry, and a million other things as well.

Dr Brigid O’Brien – Public Health Physician (MBChB, MPH, FNZCPHM)