Putting a smile in the minds of children

Jodie Marshall

J Marshall Psychological Services, PO Box 1102 Nuriootpa SA 5355, marshalljo@bigpond.com

As a private psychologist and mother of primary school aged children, I noticed teachers talking about apparent increases of symptoms of anxiety in children at progressively younger ages.  In response to this I volunteered to assist one teacher to bring mindfulness practice to their classroom, using the ‘Smiling Mind’ education program (www.smilingmind.com.au).  Mindfulness is the process of being ‘present in the moment’, and is used across all ages to calm the mind and settle the stress response of the nervous system.  Smiling Mind is an Australian web and app-based program which allows free access to a range of mindfulness meditations ranging from 30 seconds to 45 minutes.

The use of Smiling Mind in one classroom quickly caught the interest of the leadership group in the school and resulted in the beginning of a school-wide mindfulness approach.  By increasing the awareness of mindfulness within school families and the wider community, we have been able to improve the capacity of the students to manage emotions, stressors and daily pressures and empower the teachers to find alternative ways to experience calm, manageable classrooms.  My presentation outlines the process of expanding the reach of mindfulness in one rural primary school over a 12-month period.

Biography

Jodie Marshall is a psychologist in private practice in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Jodie’s background includes working for public mental health agencies in country Victoria, including experience with perinatal psychology, and within the forensic psychology population. Jodie currently works with clients across a broad range of presentations including anxiety, depression and trauma, and she is passionate about the wellbeing of the community within which she lives and works.