Meditation lessons should be part of national curriculum | Sunday Observer
Stress of going to secondary school

Meditation lessons should be part of national curriculum

27 November, 2022

Children should be given mindfulness lessons to overcome self-esteem woes they suffer after moving up to secondary school, a study suggests.

Most students experience a sharp decline in their well-being during the transition from primary school, regardless of their background, Cambridge and Manchester University researchers found.

A UK study of more than 11,000 young people showed their happiness with friends, school and family dropped substantially between the ages of 11 and 14.

They suggested ‘positive psychology’ initiatives like mindfulness sessions should become part of the national curriculum to improve their life satisfaction.

Researchers used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, people born between 2000 and 2002, to calculate a well-being ‘score’ for each student, accounting for factors such as economic advantage and bullying.

While most adolescents were satisfied with life at age 11, the majority were extremely dissatisfied by age 14.

Well-being scores

By that age, the well-being scores of 79 percent of the participants fell below what had been the average score for the entire group three years earlier.

The study also captured information about the adolescents’ satisfaction with specific aspects of their lives, such as schoolwork, personal appearance, family and friends.

It suggested the most dramatic downturns between 11 and 14 were probably related to school and relationships with peers, according to the findings published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Ioannis Katsantonis, of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education, said: “Even though this was a large, diverse group of adolescents, we saw a consistent fall in well-being. “One of the most striking aspects was the clear association with changes at school.

“It suggests we urgently need to do more to support students’ well-being at secondary schools across the UK.”

The drop in wellbeing typically related to school and peer relationships, pointing to a close connection with shifts in these young people’s academic and social lives.

Students with higher self-esteem at age 11 experienced a less significant drop in well-being at age 14, suggesting efforts to boost it during the first years of secondary school would help.

Students’ achievements

Teachers should celebrate students’ achievements, underline the value of things they do well and avoid negative comparisons with other students, they suggest. Prof. Ros McLellan, a specialist in student well-being, and co-author, said: the link between self-esteem and well-being seems especially important.

He said: “Supporting students’ capacity to feel positive about themselves during early adolescence is not a fix-all solution, but it could be highly beneficial, given that we know their well-being is vulnerable.”

He added: “It’s really important that this is sustained – it can’t just be a case of doing something once when students start secondary school, or implementing the odd practice here and there.

“A concerted effort to improve students’ sense of self-worth could have really positive results. “Many good teachers are doing this already, but it is, perhaps, even more important than we thought.’ Daily Mail