MINDFULNESS IN
SINGAPOREAN SCHOOLS

“Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation,
it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”


- American Psychological Association (2012) 

 

The ability to pay attention, to train attentional focus on the present moment is a skill that can be developed through practice. This faculty can help us to better understand our inner states, and to explore then lens of perception that we use to make sense of the world outside.  This self-awareness helps us relate to the world in a wiser and more compassionate way. 

As members of a service profession, teachers often put the needs of others before their own, which over time can lead to forms of burnout. There is a cost to that malady not only to the teacher, but to the students under their care. Developing resilience through attentional training, cultivating mindful awareness & practicing compassion helps alleviate some of this suffering. 

This article builds on the wonderful groundwork of Fannie Khng (her study is linked below), who mapped the landscape of mindfulness education in Singapore in 2017. Using her base, I will continually update this document with the effort of schools in Singapore to integrate secular mindfulness practice for both students and teachers.

I appeal to any teacher out there who is reading this, to contact me if you have details on the application of mindful practices in your school. 
 

Local Schools 
 

Westwood Primary School
Teachers in WWPS conceptualized a framework called “THRIVE” in 2013 that focuses on positive education and implemented it in 2014. ”THRIVE” is an acronym for: Thinking Mindfully, Healthy Coping, Relating Well, In the Moment, Values-Driven Actions and Emotions of Positivity. This framework was adapted from the”PERMA” framework by Professor Martin Seligman, who is widely known as the father of positive psychology.
 

Damai Primary School 
3 minutes of deep breathing, but more research needs to be done. 
 

Da Qiao Primary School 
Focuses on specific skills that help students to strengthen their relationships, build positive emotions, enhance personal resilience, promote mindfulness, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Primary 1 to 6 students engage in community work, all students practise mindfulness in reading, eating and breathing. Practices were introduced to students and staff through a series of experiential learning activities on the application of mindfulness during pre-assembly programmes, recess activities and the THRIVE Experience Day. These learning activities provided students with an understanding of how these practices can be applied daily. 

Staff capacity was augmented with training in the principles of mindfulness by an expert trainer. Experienced teachers who had successfully used mindful practices in their classrooms were invited to share their experiences at the regular professional development platform.

 

International Schools 

UWC Southeast Asia East Campus 

Many of their teachers have been trained in the Mindful Schools curriculum, and it is planned that all teachers will eventually be trained. Students have  engages in the nine-week Stop. Breathe and Be program from the United Kingdom’s Mindfulness in Schools Project. They use breathing exercises to become more aware of their thoughts & feelings. Teachers use the headspace (for schools) app in classrooms and plan a weekly mindfulness activity into their timetables. 

For major examinations like the SAT & ACT, they run optional mindfulness sessions to help kids address test and life anxiety and perform better on test day.

UWC Southeast Asia Dover 

Teachers use the schools version of the calm app, plus a mix of things from Cosmic kids, headspace and go-noodle. Each of the infant school classroom also has a mindfulness area that have a whole bunch of sensory resources, books and look inviting. This area is allowed to be accessed whenever a child feels they need it throughout the day.

Tanglin Trust School 

Teachers are trained in mindfulness by the counselling team, and modelling behaviour is a key part of how TTS spreads these practices. Sitting meditation for students is used as a transitional activity during the school day.

Lead by MBSR-trained counsellors, mindfulness practices for students at TTS include introductory mindfulness sessions as part of their Personal, Social, Health, and Citizenship Education (PSHCE), and yoga sessions for students as young as 4/5 years old. 

Practically speaking, this involves using simple breathing techniques with a small physical component. They’re very versatile and can be applied at different times of the day – a body wake up pat down in the morning to get invigorated or touching on ‘reset’ buttons in the afternoon to help students become calm yet alert. 


References: 
 

Kiat Hui Khng (2018): Mindfulness in education: the case of Singapore, Learning: Research and Practice, DOI: 10.1080/23735082.2018.1428120
 

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/kids-find-inner-calm-through-mindful-breathing