This series is based on the latest research on back-to-school transitions. Experts explain how best to prepare children for school and counter difficulties such as stress or bad behaviour.
Young Australians experience very high stress in schools, which has negative effects on their academic performance and mental health. It is essential that schools teach students how to identify and best manage stress. These skills will continue to benefit them throughout their lives.
adolescence is a critical step to intervene that the health-related behaviors established during this period are often carried into adulthood.
School stress management programs, such as mindfulness-based yoga programs, have proven effective in the USA. Similar programs would benefit Australian school children.
Australian school children are very stressed
Almost half (47%) of Australian students feel very stressed when studying, compared to an international average of 37%.
According to the OECD average, 67% of Australian students report feeling very anxious even though they are well prepared for a test, compared to an international average of 56% (64% for girls and 47% for boys).
Among the 50% of young people in grades 7-12 who report feeling moderately to extremely stressed about exams, the main source of pressure come by themselves. To manage stress is a major concern for young people.
The impact of school stress on young Australians and society
There is no definitive classification of yoga, but common elements are:
asanas (the physical postures or positions of yoga)
mindfulness practicewhich is the process of focusing awareness on the present moment and recognizing and accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, without judging.
Mindfulness-Based Communication improves the resilience of first-year studentswhile students who participate in moderate or vigorous physical activity are less likely to report that they feeling very anxious about school work.
In secondary schools, American and Indian studies show mindfulness-based yoga programs can improve grades Where mitigate declines in grades throughout the school year, improve emotional regulation, improve memory, anger control and fatigue/inertia, improve mood and decrease anxiety.
A qualitative study showed that yoga improves self-image and the management of negative emotions and optimism. Students believe yoga could reduce interest in drug and alcohol use and increase social cohesion with family and peers.
At home, parents can consider practicing mindfulness with their children and can access a range of online mindfulness and meditation programs and apps for young people, for example via Head space and smiling spirit.
Given the evidence base, offering mindfulness-based yoga programs in schools can help young people learn to manage stress and increase their ability to bounce back in response to stress.