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posted Feb 6, 2019, 6:39 PM by Reception @TMCS
I hope you have had a very happy and relaxing holiday break with your children and that you have been able to enjoy the great New Zealand outdoors over a sun filled summer. What a wonderful country New Zealand is. I was able to escape for a couple of weeks of tramping and kayaking in the magnificent Nelson Lakes and Marlborough Sounds area, some staff travelled and camped in the stunning South Island while others enjoyed the wonderful local beaches or relaxed in our lovely area. Everyone enjoying relaxed family time. We hope you did too. Your children certainly look well rested and healthy.

We have also been busy over the student free time preparing for 2019 learning and teaching. It is lovely to have our school once again filled with the laughter and activity of happy students rushing about, after the eerily quiet school of the holidays.

Last week our staff came together for a few Teacher Only Days in preparation for 2019. We are always trying to improve what we do and to cater for the specific needs of our students. Over the last few years, along with other schools across the country, we have been finding that an increasing number of our students are struggling with anxieties and the ability to concentrate on and focus on what needs to be achieved. This year apart from our regular curriculum coverage we are going to have an increased focus on the overall wellbeing and hauora of our students and staff. Research has shown that students, and indeed adults, who are able to practice Mindfulness - breathing and focusing on the present through a variety of practices such as Gratitude, are better able to focus on their learning and this leads to increased achievement, happier students, ana a more respectful and calm school environment, where care and empathy is shown to increase. All of these aspects fit into what we value as a school and fit with our School Vision.  

Our teachers have started a Pause, Breathe, Smile Educator Training course which we will evolve further with our next Teacher Only Day in June. We are also being supported by Rachel MacAllister from Cambridge with her Inspire Mindfulness Programme. Some quotes below from Rachel:

"I teach children how mindfulness helps to calm the brain — particularly their amygdala, which is the part of the brain which makes us fight, flight or freeze in stressful and anxiety-provoking situations,"

"We look at how mindfulness helps the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain we use for concentration, decision making, having compassion, problem solving etc."

"I teach the children how neural pathways are created and how new pathways can be created, therefore creating healthier thought processes."

Please be assured that the breathing approaches we will be using are not any religious form of meditation, we are trying to focus the brain to being present and aware of the here and now without all the self doubt and head talk impacting on concentration.

“The secular, Westernized purpose of mindfulness thinking is to settle the  busyness of random thoughts and overactive bodies, leading to a cognitive state in which the physical systems of the brain and body operate more efficiently and effectively.”

On Thursday 31st January, and into the evening our staff practiced some Mindfulness activities, including mindfulness breathing, mindfulness eating, gratitude, Mindful observations and a half hour silent mindful walk in the bush. This was also part of a team challenge involving catering their own dinner with a $10 per head budget and limited time. Our staff are pretty amazing chefs as well.