PUPILS are being led through seven stages to enlightenment to prepare them for the stresses and strains of modern life.

Barnard Castle Preparatory School children now end every day with headmistress Laura Turner– connecting with their inner selves in a project designed to help them hang on to their childhoods by using their imaginations.

What started out as a voluntary mindfulness activity is now part of the curriculum for years one to six.

Last lesson of the day sees them guided through seven principle steps to wellbeing. These include moving and playing games before embracing stretches and controlled breathing exercises, followed by personal affirmations and a relaxation story.

At senior school, pupils exercise their mind, bodies and souls with compulsory activities such as chess, languages and public speaking, sport, cooking and gardening.

Mrs Turner said: “Modern day society encourages children to be older before they are ready. We are trying to help them hold on to their childhood, creativity and imaginations for as long as possible. If you can achieve the right balance, keeping pupils on an even keel, then children can be children for longer.”

She said research shows that children at many schools feel high levels of stress and worry and low self-esteem, exacerbated by excessive homework, SATS and digital devices. “We have designed a curriculum and a raft of enrichment activities that allow pupils to learn and flourish while still enjoying their childhoods,” she added.