Laughter Yoga, Laughtercise, Healthy Schools and the Big Picture….

21 January 2012 at 18:31

Now in its 12th year, Healthy Schools is still going strong.  A voluntary National programme; Healthy Schools is a very successful example of partnership work between schools, the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department for Education (DfE).  During its existence Healthy Schools has been through a great many changes; with the most recent seeing it become a school-led programme which has a national ’toolkit’, (available to download at http://education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/pastoralcare/a0075278/healthy-schools), to support schools in developing positive health related behavioural change.

You may be wondering why I’ve started this blog talking about Healthy Schools when you’re reading a Totally Laughter Yoga blog…..well that’s because just like Healthy Schools, Laughter Yoga or Laughtercise is also an excellent example of a health-education partnership in action.

This was exemplified really well in a recent day of Laughter Yoga sessions in a primary school, also a Healthy School in Middlesbrough.  The ‘health’ side is fairly obvious; Laughter Yoga or Laughtercise involves movement, stretching and deep breathing. This brings with it numerous physical health benefits. The action of laughter along with the connection with others supports the development of, and sustains positive mental health and wellbeing. That is why thousands of people engage in Laughter Yoga every day. However, the ‘education’ side may not be quite so obvious at first.  This becomes apparent from the pupils themselves through their questions. Within each of the sessions we facilitated in this school we were inundated with probing questions from keen minds wanting to know more;

“What is Laughter Yoga?”, “Why is Laughtercise good for you?”, “How can you breathe through your mouth and your nose?”, “What does infectious mean?” and “How long can you laugh for?” to state just a few. 

This happens time and time again at the schools we’ve worked in, questions and interested pupils eager to try Laughter Yoga but really wanting to know the ‘why’ behind the activity.

 

The amount of teaching and learning that can be derived from these few questions alone is massive.  In order to answer these questions the subjects of science, English and maths can all be engaged and any one (or combination of them) could be developed into a ‘real life’ research project back in the classroom. 

The other ‘Healthy School’ benefit has been the engagement of staff.  During the sessions children are accompanied by teachers, teaching assistants and learning mentors. At Totally Laughter Yoga we really like everyone to get involved and encourage the staff to engage with the sessions.  We know the benefits of Laughter Yoga on adults so that really doesn’t need restating at this point, but we’ve noticed another benefit pupils and teachers laughing ‘together’, strengthening the bond between them. The pleasure both groups seem to get from this shared laughter has been commented on numerous times as yet another positive Laughter Yoga brings to the school.

Hopefully, this has illustrated why and how Laughter Yoga/Laughtercise is a health-education initiative that aligns completely with the true ethos that is fundamental to actually ‘being’ a Healthy School. Perhaps we should create a whole new category of ‘Laughter School’ within the Healthy School initiative?

By utilising their Healthy School expectations as the overarching vehicle to deliver Laughter Yoga or Laughtercise to their whole school community, (including pupils, staff, parents and governors), Healthy Schools will continue to improve their provision of excellent health and pastoral care. The importance of school-based and school-led teaching and learning in relation to health and wellbeing is widely recognised and it will hopefully be continued to be the hallmark of good schools in relation to Ofsted.

As Laughtercise/Laughter Yoga links to so much more, future blogs will cover the following topics;

 

      • TaMHS (Targeted Mental Health in Schools)
      •  
      • Physical Activity

  • SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning
  • PSHEe (Personal, Social Health and Economic education)
  • Measuring happiness in schools
  •  

    Hope you've enjoyed the blog? Keep reading and laughing.

     

    Sandra and Simon

    Author: Sandra and Simon on 21 January 2012 at 18:31 Comments (0)  

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