Student Wellbeing - The Quiet Room
The Quiet Room is a safe and calming place for students who are sometimes overwhelmed by the busy, noisy playground. This initiative began at the start of term two when the school opened Room 20 (the ESOL room) on four days a week to provide a supervised space during the lunch break.
The children invited to use the room have access to mindful colouring in, craft activities, building materials, books and board games. The lights are kept dim and sometimes music is played.
The Quiet Room is a space away from the noise and bustle of the playground; a space to relax, calm down and chill out. Having a safe and peaceful place to go helps a child take ownership of his or her ability to self-regulate emotions and sensory systems, which are crucial for learning.
Last year, Russley students were introduced to mindful breathing or tummy breathing. This type of breathing is a quick and easy way to engage the body’s natural relaxation response. It draws the child’s attention away from the present, boosts concentration and helps them turn anxiety and anger into feelings of relaxation and focus.
Younger students were introduced to this practice through a Sesame Street video that features Elmo as the main character. Elmo explains in a fun, interactive way when and how to use tummy breathing. This video can be found online at Elmo Belly Breathing. The older children viewed a video entitled Just Breathe.
We suggest parents encourage their children to tune in to their breathing whenever they feel upset or angry, or want to relax.
In addition, there are online resources at https://allright.org.nz/ that support wellbeing and mental health. You will find Elmo Belly Breathing in the “Sparklers” section and the website also has a useful “Tips for Parents” section.
A much talked about topic in educational psychology is the growth mindset. Stanford University professor Carol Dweck’s claims in her book “Mindset: The new psychology of success” that teaching children to have a growth mindset does work and can be developed. Children who have a growth mindset seem to face challenges in a more positive way. They will say things like, “I love a challenge,” instead of having negative thoughts when faced with difficulty.
When we have a growth mindset we believe that our brain can be developed and we can grow our intelligence, whereas a fixed mindset is the belief that our brain can’t be developed and it is static. Research shows time and again that if a growth mindset is encouraged by teachers and parents, children perform better and see obstacles as opportunities to improve and learn.
Children should be taught not to give up on a task just because they cannot do something immediately. Effort and perseverance are the start to training the mind, in order to achieve, learn and grow. One of the ways adults can encourage this is through the language we use when we discuss challenges with children. Dweck mentions that saying “not yet” to children instead of saying they have failed at something is a much better way to show them that even if they have difficulties overcoming a challenge, the time will come when they will succeed. The use of “you haven’t learned it yet” shows that there is a learning curve, and points to the process, not the outcome.
According to the Mindset website, “Every so often a truly ground-breaking idea comes along. This is one.” The mindset theory explains:
- Why brains and talent don’t necessarily bring success and in fact, can stand in the way of it
- Why praising/rewarding brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but rather jeopardises them
- How teaching a simple idea about the brain raises grades and productivity