An independent boys’ school in Bromley has introduced the classes for its youngest pupils to raise awareness about mental health
Bickley Park School says it aims to give its pupils the best possible start in life – “both academically and mentally” – by launching mindfulness sessions for students aged five to seven years.
The classes were introduced by Jon Poole, who started as the new assistant head of pre-prep at the boys’ school in September. He started running the mindfulness sessions for pupils to give them a chance to take time out from the busy school day.
“While there is a lot out there for teenagers, there’s not a lot for younger children, Key Stage 1 in particular,” he says. “Such a vital part of helping pupils have a healthy, happy life is making sure they know how to look after themselves, and taking early steps to help them nurture their mental health is a key part of that.”
The short sessions take place after lunch, where pupils are allowed to enjoy “five minutes of calm”. Jon is now working with Bickley Park’s prep department to introduce mindfulness classes throughout the school.
“I think it’s important pupils, even those in pre-prep, get a chance to sit, relax and be silent. Their lives are so busy, even at a young age, that getting a chance to take time out allows them to recharge their mental and physical batteries,” adds Jon.
The 37-year-old teacher introduced mindfulness sessions to students at Eltham College, where he taught for 15 years, and is keen to replicate its success at Bickley Park.
“So often we hear of youngsters and teenagers struggling with mental health problems, with statistics showing children as young as five have suffered from depression,” he says. “By offering mindfulness sessions, I hope to give our boys the tools to support their own mental health, which is just as important as giving them a strong academic start.”