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Photo: Tálknafjörður *** Local Caption *** Vestfirðir.

Icelandic Students Benefit from Mindfulness Teaching

A program teaching mindfulness in Reykjavík primary schools is having a positive impact on the health of students and teachers, reports. Preliminary results of a study done on the initiative show significant changes in mindfulness, stress levels, and empathy. Bryndís Jóna Jónsdóttir, adjunct lecturer at the University of Iceland’s Faculty of Education and Diversity, gave a lecture on the project’s progress at a conference on educational science today.

“We are beginning to hear clearly from the schools how important teaching mindfulness is. Each and every individual is given the means to deal with daily challenges, promote wellbeing and resilience, and there are many advantages to that,” Bryndís remarked. While plenty of research has been done abroad on mindfulness in education, she stressed the importance of conducting local studies, which could learn from practices abroad.

Based on proven methods

In 2017, development began on a holistic introduction of mindfulness into primary schools in collaboration with the Directorate of Health. In 2018, a pilot project was implemented in three schools in the capital area. The project is two-pronged, and consist of a comprehensive implementation of mindfulness across the entire schools from 1st to 10th grade, as well as a research project done specifically with students born in 2005 and 2006. The material and methods used varies based on students’ age and is all based on proven methods.

Increased self-empathy

Preliminary results showed that mindfulness teaching increased self-empathy in pre-teen students. “That is vitally important during these developmental years. These are kids in seventh and ninth grade. These are kids who are going through puberty when they are very critical of themselves. They get the opportunity to reverse that development and find ways to support themselves and treat themselves with kindness when they are faced with difficulties.”

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