The practice of mindfulness is not a new concept. Celebrities tout it on Instagram, companies base their entire brand around it. You may even be practicing it in your workplace, yoga studio or gym. But mindfulness is something that John Colet School embedded in their values since the school’s inception over 35 years ago, and the benefits have been paying off ever since.
Every time the students and staff start a new activity, they practice a little ritual called The Pause, which is exactly what it sounds like. They stop for 5-60 seconds to reflect and make sure they are present in their environment. The result? A more grounded, more present and more attentive approach to their learnings, and life.
Headmaster Julian Wilcock says the school’s unique Pause philosophy continues to garner positive feedback from parents, high school teachers, and the children themselves, who value learning about self-awareness from an early age.
“We know that attention is a learned skill, and have found that this simple act of pausing, and giving attention to what is happening in the present moment, has a dramatic effect on both children and adults alike,” says Mr Wilcock.
“Academically, the Pause fosters focus and effective learning. Socially, it enhances a sense of connectedness and compassion. And internally, it incites a certain inner strength and courage to deal with life’s challenges.
“We have found over the years that our approach prepares the children for success in high school, and life beyond, and instils in them fine qualities of courage, resilience, fair-play and empathy.”
Outcomes supported by numerous scientific studies, including one from Positive Psychology, that shows practicing mindfulness can increase the hippocampus and temporoparietal junction in the brain, meaning better regulation of emotions, spatial orientation, learning and storing of memories, as well as increased capacity for empathy and compassion.
While Stillness is John Colet’s main value practiced throughout the year, each term they focus on one other core value: Truthfulness, Courage, Service, and Respect.
John Colet School is renowned for its outstanding NAPLAN results, but internally, the focus has always been on the holistic growth of the students. The development of character and ensuring each child builds confidence in every aspect of their learning is paramount.
“We believe that primary education is just that – primary. It’s foundational to a person’s development, and it begins when they are children,” says Mr Wilcock.
“We don’t want kids saying “I don’t like maths”. We want them to be empowered to have a go and discover what they do like doing in certain disciplines. Then when they do find their spark, we encourage and challenge them to explore it further – there’s no tall poppy culture. We like to embrace each child’s uniqueness.”
“The Pause is a big part of the children’s development here at John Colet, but so too is providing an enriched environment for students to want to do their best and challenge themselves.
Students at John Colet School learn and perform at least six months ahead of their state school counterparts, but the school’s focus always remains on individual learning. Teachers stay with the same class for a number of years, meaning children form deeper bonds, through consistency and routine.
John Colet offers extension programs for students seeking further learning. Teachers are specialists in their fields, meaning students have the opportunity to learn intricacies of subjects like ceramics, Sanskrit, philosophy and percussion.
The best feedback the school consistently receives from graduating parents is that their children are confident, independent, self-aware of their strengths, and that they’re academically ready for high school.
“Our children have different needs and personalities and the school not only meets those needs but often exceeds,” says John Colet School parent Carolyn Lambert.
“The kids love their hot lunches (and I love not having to pack any!) The school has a wonderful community and we have made many friends. JCS has so many qualities, and the traditional school values, pausing before and after lessons and the enriched curriculum are all factors that we feel really contribute to the children becoming very well rounded, self-assured individuals.
“Our son has grown in confidence, has a great work ethic, and got great NAPLAN results!”
Julian Wilcockwill will explain how The Pause helps reduce anxiety, regulates emotions, settles even the youngest school children and aids concentration on Thursday 20th of May at 8pm. Details here.