We are on a mission to deliver one million mindful minutes by the end of 2020 - Nicole Bone, Sound Off For Schools.
At Mini HQ we are passionate advocates of mental health and wellness. Our personal self-care practices include yoga, meditation and mindfulness exercises, and we have seen firsthand the benefits these can bring to daily life.
That’s why we knew that high school English teacher Nicola Bone, and her passion project, Sound Off for Kids, would be the perfect partner for Mini and our families. Nicola is changing the face of education by bringing mindfulness, contemplation and calm into the school environment.
Mini caught up with Nicola covering topics about mental health, mindfulness, education and how to implement mindfulness practices in our own homes.
Nicola, tell us… what is Sound Off for Schools?
Sound Off for Schools is a mindfulness education program for students and teachers. It delivers practical and engaging strategies and practices through wireless headphone technology to help young people and educators carve out deliberate time and space to be calm, to contemplate and to learn the skill of being present.
What prompted you to start working with mindfulness?
The program started in my own classroom where I witnessed so many of my students struggling with the crippling effects of mental illness and, therefore, unable to learn, grow or thrive in a classroom environment.
I started with students in my high school English classes by beginning each lesson with six minutes of mindful meditation and breathing. Over time this allowed students to settle, clear their minds of worry or stress and gain clarity for learning.
How can mindfulness help kids?
In Australia currently one in seven young people aged 4-17 suffers from mental illness. This can cause hyper stimulation of the brain’s limbic system leading to the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction. When this part of the brain is stimulated, the frontal lobe, which controls executive function (essential for focus, attention and learning) is offline.
The Sound Off for Schools program combines scientifically proven practices in cognitive neuroscience, educational psychology and pedagogical teaching to teach young people strategies to become more aware of their cognitive habits. They are empowered by knowing that their thoughts, at any given time, are a choice, and they can begin to navigate their way through the complex world they are growing up in.
What is your mission at Sound Off for Schools?
Over the past 18 months, we have reached over 6,015 young people and teachers to cultivate over 342,760 mindful minutes in 51 schools. We are on a mission to deliver one million mindful minutes by the end of 2020.
Where can Mini families find your program?
Families can request an information pack via our website or bring the program to their P&F group meetings and suggest that their school implement it. Parents can also arrange a fundraiser event for their school that includes a Sound Off for Schools experience.
What are some ways our families can implement mindfulness practices in their homes?
Mindfulness practices can be implemented in the home as a daily ritual and time for reflection and calm. I would suggest starting out with a simple breathing time upon waking or before story time at night. Have your child place their right hand gently on the base of the belly, with the left hand resting on the heart and with their eyes closed, take three to 10 deep belly breaths (long and steady).
For older or more experienced children, a meditation ritual can be created using a candle, essential oils, poems or a family gratitude jar. The challenge is to make it a daily routine so that the practice becomes part of the family schedule.
What goals do you have for Sound Off for Schools in the future?
Phase 1: One million mindful minutes by the end of 2020.
Phase 2: Digitised content of the program for rural and remote schools to access all content by 2021.
Phase 3: By 2025, every student in every classroom in Australia picks up their own set of wireless headphones at the start of the school year, much like a textbook, to begin each school day with mindful moments to prepare the brain for learning.