"Our children are too small to be receptive to this kind of method."
This is what certain specialists such as the psychologist Christophe André have long believed, describing meditation as an almost unexplored field whose approaches seemed too difficult and intellectual for children.
And yet, meditation is present in some schools around the world! In an often anxiety-provoking world where stress and family instability manifest themselves, meditation has appeared in some countries as a method that allows children to apprehend the world with greater serenity.
What is really meditation?
First of all, there are several meditation methods that are used very regularly and adapted to children.
Among the most famous, we can find the New Zealand method "Attention, it works! "Eline Snel's New Zealand method, the British method "B" or "Dot-be" by Chris Cullen or the recent French method "Mindful Up" by Jeanne Siaud-Facchin.
All these methods aim to reduce the psychological and emotional agitation of children in order to enhance attention and learning.
They focus on self-knowledge and the socio-emotional functioning of children. The goal is to refocus the child on the present moment so that he can concentrate on his thoughts, emotions and physical sensations to find inner stability and greater well-being.
Meditation will then allow children to feel what is good or not good for them and will thus be able to evacuate the things that are bothering them. Running away, fighting and being amazed, which are behaviours present during a difficulty, are overcome and replaced by a calmer and more serene behaviour. Meditation allows children to become aware of their emotions and thus to choose how to react to them. A decrease in impulsivity, tension and conflict has been observed in several schools practicing meditation, describing the classroom climate as "calmer and more serene".
How is meditation practiced at school in other countries?
In some countries, such as Canada and the United States, meditation is as important as learning to read and write because it is considered a true method of developing our children's mental abilities.
Let's take the example of Canada, where meditation in Vancouver schools has been practiced for almost 10 years. Mr. C. Lee, a teacher of 5th grade students (or 7th grade in Canada), always starts his school day with breathing exercises with his students.
The goal is to teach children how to breathe. You'll probably think it's a funny concept! But in reality, this exercise, taken from the MindUp education program, allows children to listen to themselves breathe and become aware of their bodies. This exercise, which can be done in silence or with soft music, will allow children to clear their minds before starting the day.
According to a scientific study conducted by psychology researcher Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, these methods have had conclusive results in students: increased well-being and academic results.
These results raise a hypothesis: a better classroom atmosphere thanks to calmer and calmer students would lead to a better learning climate and therefore better concentration and better academic results.
Another example in the United States: in the Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, meditation is seen as bringing comfort and ease to children. According to the teachers, meditation is necessary for the good development of the students.
Thus, by emphasizing concentration and reflection rather than punishment, this school decided to replace the hours of detention with hours of meditation. A room specially dedicated to meditation has been set up so that the students have a quiet place where they can reflect and relax. Breathing and contemplation exercises have been put in place to reduce the children's anxiety. In addition, 20-minute sessions are also set up for children who have headaches, stomach aches or are under stress. These sessions consist of 5 minutes of discussion around the child's problem followed by 15 minutes of meditation, yoga or breathing exercises.
Do they practice meditation for children in France?
In France the principle of meditation in schools is still a sensitive subject and not approved by the national education system, which prefers to focus on "more traditional" teaching methods such as "learning morals and civics". However, meditation is developing in some French schools.
This is the case in La Rochelle. Phillipe, a primary school teacher, practises meditation for his pupils in order to relax them and make them feel better. In addition to the meditation sessions, short videos based on meditation are organized. And the results are quite conclusive! "I like meditation because it feels good, it relaxes us, we don't think about anything anymore," says one student. As for Phillipe, he finds that his students are calmer and more attentive.
Even in France, meditation seems to have rather conclusive results and seems to be a promising method that is increasingly revolutionary in the education of our children.
If you want to try it, here is a meditation session to help your children fight against stress.