What is Pause
Breathe Smile?

We all want our children to thrive at school – to learn well, pay attention, make friends and develop the skills they’ll need to navigate life and grow to be thriving, happy adults.

But, as we all know, modern childhood comes with increasing pressures on children to perform and achieve, while at the same time new technologies, games, advertising and the pace of modern life all compete for their attention.

Pause, Breathe, Smile programme is New Zealand’s only locally developed and researched eight-week mindfulness in schools course designed in 2013 for Year 2-8 learners. A small number of high-schools began trialing PBS in 2015. It aligns with the New Zealand Education Curriculum and incorporates Te Whare Tapa Whā as a key element of the programme.



The Pause, Breathe, Smile Curriculum

PBS is taught in the classroom for one-hour per week over 8 weeks, either by the classroom teacher or other educator, or by one of our certified facilitators.

Online resources are available for all educators trained to teach Pause, Breathe, Smile, including access to the daily guided mindfulness audio practices online and the activity sheets for students to enhance their learning.

Four evidence-based core mindfulness practices are repeated each week:

  • mindful breathing
  • mindful eating
  • mindful movements
  • gratitude practice

In addition, a different topic grounded in the science of positive mental wellbeing and related mindfulness practice is taught each week. These topics are set out in the eight comprehensive lesson of the PBS curriculum, summarised here:

Lesson 1: Coming home
Introducing core practices for mind-body integration.

Lesson 2: Happiness here and now
Exploring happiness and learning how our actions impact wellbeing.

Lesson 3: Everything for the first time

Using creative role-play for looking at the world with curiosity and interest.

Lesson 4: All things rising and falling
Recognising that emotions are felt in the body and learning how to self-regulate with mindfulness.

Lesson 5: Neurons that fire together wire together
Learning about the brain and how to settle scattered thinking.

Lesson 6: Kind heart, happy heart
Fostering kindness and compassion toward self and others.

Lesson 7: Everything is connected to everything else

Exploring the relationships between self, others and the natural world.

Lesson 8: Touching base, touching stillness

This lesson encourages student reflection, group sharing, and committing to moving forward with a shared agreement to foster presence, kindness and curiosity in the classroom based on the learning and discoveries made over the previous weeks.

Holistic wellbeing integrated into the programme

Pause, Breathe, Smile fosters the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum and aligns with the health and physical education learning areas, and aspects of the social sciences and science learning areas. Te Whare Tapa Whā, an eloquent model of hauora (holistic wellbeing) is integrated into the programme. Breath and body-based practices are used for exploring the interplay between physical sensations, thoughts, emotions, relationships with others, and interconnectedness with the natural world.

Te Whare Tapa Whā is made up of:

  • Taha wairua – spiritual wellbeing
  • Taha tinana – physical wellbeing
  • Taha hinengaro – mental and emotional wellbeing
  • Taha whānau – whanau and social wellbeing
  • Whenua – land, roots.

Te Whare Tapa Whā is incorporated in the Health and Physical Education Learning Area of the New Zealand Curriculum.

PBS Evidence Base

Research conducted by AUT University and the University of Auckland has found that participation in Pause, Breathe, Smile:

  • Increases calmness
  • Improves focus and attention
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Helps develop conflict resolution skills and positive relationships
  • Reduces stress for teachers
  • Leads to statistically significant increases in wellbeing

Accessing PBS in your school

There are two options for how to get Pause, Breathe, Smile in your school:

Option 1 PBS Educator certification: Teaching staff, principals, guidance counsellors, RTLB or any other education or health professional can easily complete our thorough training to teach the PBS curriculum.

Option 2 – External Facilitation: MEG can arrange for one of our certified independent facilitators to come to your school to teach the 8-week curriculum. When delivered in this way the programme is designed to be taught once per week each week for 8 weeks. It is taught to a maximum of 30 students at a time and there are online audio practices for the teacher to play to the class for their continued integration of mindfulness across the week.

“The teachers who have enrolled in Pause, Breathe, Smile have all seen improvements in their classroom culture. They’ve noticed the children are more settled, and the teachers themselves have personally benefitted from some of the strategies mindfulness has taught them.”
Rubina Wheeler, Principal, Nawton School
Pause Breathe Smile Programe
“Our school values include an approach to hauora (holistic wellbeing) that is integrated across everything we do. We had done some initial investigation into mindfulness and “flourishing” as well as neuroscience based thinking around how to best support the development of a well person. To us the evidence was clear that we needed to, at a bare minimum, investigate mindfulness as a pathway to this. PBS was the only program we could find that had local research, an Aotearoa/New Zealand context, and experienced practitioners and trainers – as well as an ethos of development and ongoing practice based learning and research. (in other words – unquestionably HIGH QUALITY!)”Kat Liu-Asomua, Leader of Learning, Ormiston Junior College
Pause Breathe Smile Curiculum
“Breathing mindfully helps me calm down a lot if I’m stressed.” PBS participant, aged 10
Pause Breathe Smile Programe for kids