School Asks Kids to Be 'Mindful' & Parents Freak Out


There are some very upset parents this week, as one school has suggested a mindfulness technique to deal with bullying. Riversdale School in New Zealand has incited the ire of several Christian parents by tossing around the idea of implementing a controversial program during the school day that involves students reflecting on their "thoughts and emotions in a natural and calm state and in the present moment."

Apparently the technique has Buddhist ties, so obviously it will not do. The education ministry reported that at least five parents had complained about the proposal, and they were working with the school and the parents to make sure everything is dealt with appropriately.

Dylan Ditchfield, the chairman of the board of trustees for the school, confirmed that they were considering adopting the "mindfulness programme" for many reasons, one of which is bullying. He also said that bullying is no worse at Riversdale than any other school.

There was a meeting Monday night to get some community feedback, but apparently they got much more than they bargained for, as several parents were very upset about it.

A session clerk from a local church tried to distance Christians as a whole from the issue, saying, "It's not just Christians or people attending our church, there are others involved that are upset."

School officials claim that mindfulness is purely a relaxation technique and isn't specifically tied to Buddhism at all. It would simply "involve the children practising mindfulness and reflecting on their behaviour for 20-30 minutes a day."

Why parents are more upset about the "mindfulness training" and not why their kids may be missing out on 20-30 minutes of education is unknown.

As part of the consideration, Riversdale School is considering allowing students to silent read during the time. And hey -- if Christian parents are really upset over 20-30 minutes of time each day spent in reflection ... maybe they can instruct their kids to pray silently during that time. Because that wouldn't be controversial at all.

Do you think "mindfulness training" is beneficial for children in school?


Image via Tom Woodward/Flickr



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Mrseoc Mrseoc

Absolutely. I wish they had taught me mindfulness in school. Instead I had to teach myself years later. This sounds like a great class. I would love to have had 30 minuets of relaxation time during school hours. Being mindful also helps keep calm when not in meditation. It would likely reduce aggressive behavior in all the students who took the class. Also giving the students a chance to think in that way could really bring out their creativity and help them figure out what they want to be/ do in life.

IKnow... IKnow0101

I think 20 minutes of quiet reflection is great. If u are religious you can pray if not use it to just relax from the daily grind.

Knitt... KnittyTina

I read a book on how to do some simple mindfulness, and it's really helped me become more calm - something that kids should learn how to do.  What teacher wouldn't want a class with calm students?  This is one of the best ideas I ever heard of and wish my local schools would adopt this practice.  I can see how this would have a postive impact on the learning environment as a whole, and seems like a good tool for students to have as they grow older and face complicated situations.

Hocke... HockeyMomNJ

Its always amazed me how some people can turn things into an argument over religion. I think the idea has potential. If anything, I don't see how it could hurt to give it a shot.

Doula... Doulamama4

The religious undertones - and I do think they are there - do not bother me in the last.  I would be more concerned about the wasted time.  Time that could be spent on valuable instruction or recess or any number of valuable worthwhile things.  Kids already have to spend so much of their day still and quiet, if this block of time exists in the schedule, I think it would be better spent moving.

Saras... Sarasahmof3

I think I am going to try this with my 3 kids. It might help my ADHD son.

tbruc... tbrucemom

Like others have said, Christians could use this time to pray if they'd rather do that. I don't think there's any harm in what they're proposing. However, using he reverse logic, when schools would like to have a moment of silence to pray, why do people get all up in arms over it? Couldn't those that aren't Christians, or any other religion, use the time for reflection?

steph... steph0420

I wonder how many of those complaining about it having Buddhist ties, drop their kids off at school and then go to a yoga class...

nonmember avatar Jenn

I think it's a wonderful idea, and I wish more schools did the same! Not only does it teach children to be more aware of the feelings of others, it teaches a myriad of other skills including self-control and anger management. Meditation also has MANY health benefits for all. It is my feeling that the parents who object have simply not been educated as to the facts associated with this technique.

nonmember avatar HDKozak1026

I'm Christian and I think this is a great idea. As long as they don't attempt to make it a Buddist thing. If it truly is a time to be quiet and reflect it's great. Everyone needs to do this, Christian or not. I think it would be a great thing to do after recess so the kids can get calmed down for class.

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