Schools showing interest in children's relaxation programme

Children bringing the stresses of their life into the classroom is a well known barrier to education.

But a new education programme aimed at teaching children to relax and be mindful, is attracting the attention of Dunedin schools.

The Relax Kids programme was created by Marneta Viegas in 2001. Having worked as a children's entertainer in London for 10 years, she noticed a change in children's behaviour and concentration.

She developed the concept of combining well-known fairy tales with simple meditation techniques, to help children relax.

She developed a Relax Kids workshop programme using a seven-point system alongside a range of books, CDs and affirmation cards.

Relax Kids coach and New Zealand trainer Danielle Culling, of Dunedin, said the programme was suitable for children as young as 2 to teenagers.

It could help children learn how to relax and improve their sleep, self-sooth, increase their brain power, develop their self confidence, manage their moods or emotions, and manage stress and anxiety.

''Relax Kids uses relaxation techniques to help children recognise their strengths and manage their emotional journey through life.

''It provides a toolbox of skills which can be transferred into later life''.

If children could learn to be calm under pressure at a young age, that would stand them in good stead for their adult life, she said.

The programme has been introduced at Tainui School and has attracted some attention from other Dunedin schools.

Bathgate Park School principal Whetu Cormick said his school was exploring the programme.

He said the programme appeared to have had a major impact on English and American schools using it.

He said a school in England was having to suspend or exclude large numbers of pupils for bad behaviour, but had been able to cut the number of disciplinary actions to zero within a year.

''I'm keen to explore the idea, because we are always looking for opportunities to have a really safe and gentle learning environment.

''It's about giving all children time to be peaceful and calm.''


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