In this podcast, Esther Chesterman and Samreen Shah speak with Dr Helen Maffini, an expert in mindfulness and social-emotional learning, about the importance of mindfulness in education, particularly regarding anxiety and wellbeing. Dr Maffini discusses her experiences working in various countries around the world and the commonality of stress and anxiety in children, as well as the need for greater attention to be given to children’s wellbeing and readiness to learn before tackling the academic curriculum. To listen to the episode, you can use the player above or download it from our Podbean page.

Dr Maffini has been involved in social-emotional learning since the early 2000s and has a particular interest in mindfulness, which she has found helpful for managing her own anxiety. She has conducted research into the benefits of mindfulness for pre-schoolers and primary school children, and sometimes teenagers, and has brought mindfulness into schools across the world. Dr Maffini notes that while academic success is important, too much focus on it can be detrimental to children’s wellbeing and may hinder their ability to learn effectively. She advocates for the normalisation of emotions and the development of tools to help children manage their emotions in different situations.

The speakers discuss the relevance of mindfulness for learners of all ages, including adults. Dr Maffini notes that the earlier one starts on the journey towards mindfulness, the better, but that it is never too late to start. She highlights the importance of working with teachers and parents, as well as students, to embed mindfulness into the education system and create a supportive environment for learners.

Throughout the podcast, Dr Maffini provides a wealth of practical advice for teachers, parents and learners on how to integrate mindfulness into their daily lives. She suggests simple activities such as breathing exercises, mindful walking and mindful eating, which can be done anywhere, anytime. She also emphasises the importance of making mindfulness fun and accessible for children, using games and play-based activities to engage them in the process.

Overall, the podcast provides a valuable insight into the benefits of mindfulness in education, particularly regarding anxiety and wellbeing. Dr Maffini’s experience and expertise in the field, coupled with her practical advice, make this an informative and engaging listen for anyone interested in promoting social-emotional learning and wellbeing in schools and beyond. The podcast is a reminder that while academic achievement is important, it is not the only measure of success, and that fostering emotional intelligence and resilience is essential for helping learners to thrive in today’s complex and challenging world.

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