Toronto school teaching workshops in 'mindfulness' to students

Grade 9 students at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute are learning meditation-like thinking

Math, English, geography and mindfulness?

That's one of the classes being taught to Grade 9 students at a Scarborough high school.

Sandy Kaskens is the principal at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute and says these classes are about helping students deal with pressure, stress and distraction.

Still Kaskens told Newstalk 1010's Jim Richards, this is not meditation, even though that's the way it's been referred to. She says, "It's an opportunity to really be present and to sort of, gain a deeper awareness of what interferes with being present."

Some 200 grade 9 students have taken part in the six workshops being held over a 2-month period, and Kaskens says the response from parents has been overwhelmingly positive.

She says the teens take a lot out of it, "This is crucial, they're (teens) inundated with distractions, with emotion and stress."

The principal says specifically, it has helped her grade 9's, "We're at a school where about a third of our students have been in the country for under 5 years, so there's an added element of stress there as well."

Kaskens continued, "Like anything, when we train, we become more adept. So when we train our brains to understand our experiences in a very intentional and conscious way, we become more capable of managing our experiences, understanding our reactions and our triggers. I think for an adolescent in high school, this is crucial."

There are other schools that are taking an 'out of the box' approach to their students' emotional well-being. In Vancouver, Refrew Community Elementary School gets students to start their day by doing tai chi. The principal there says all 415 kids participate and you can hear a pin drop.

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  1. Celeste posted on 06/25/2014 09:28 AM
    This is wonderful! I think it's not only important for mindfulness to be taught in schools, but for the parents to learn it as well. meditationSHIFT has a good self-study course and blog. Learning the same techniques as your kids can not only help them and make them feel like you understand what's going on in their lives, but it can help you as a parent, too. It certainly did me!
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