Mindfulness programs at schools

June 26, 2018

mindfulness programs at schools

Mindfulness programs at schools is on the rise across Australia, due to the proven benefits of this meditation.

We know that mindfulness can add to the quality of our lives, from bringing a sense of inner peace to enhancing self-confidence and facilitating deeper and more meaningful relationships with others.

Benefits of mindfulness programs at schools

  • mitigate the effects of bullying (Zhou, Liu, Niu, Sun, & Fan, 2016)
  • enhance focus in children with ADHD (Zhang et al., 2016)
  • reduce attention problems (Crescentini, Capurso, Furlan, & Fabbro, 2016).
  • improving mental health and wellbeing
  • improve social skills when well taught and practiced in children and adolescents.

 

    Cognitive Benefits

    Research in education suggests that mindfulness practice can lead to improvements in executive function in children. Executive function is a set of mental skills that constitutes attention, switching focus, planning, organizing and remembering details. In the study of Flook et al., (2010) conducted on 3rd graders, students who went through an 8-week mindfulness program showed significant improvements in behavioural regulation, metacognition and focus compared to the controls group who didn’t go through the mindfulness program.

    In another study, students who went through a 24-week of mindfulness training also scored higher in attentional measures after the intervention in elementary school (Napoli et al., 2004). In another recent study conducted on preschoolers, children who went through mindfulness curriculum for 12 weeks earned higher marks on academic performance measures and showed greater improvements in areas that predict future success (Flook et al., 2015).

    Social Benefits

    A social skill is any skill that we use to interact and communicate with others. Deficits and excesses in social behavior can affect learning, understanding, and the classroom climate. A recent research conducted on lower-income and ethnic minority elementary school children show that a 5-week mindfulness curriculum can lead to better participation in activities and caring and respect for others in 9th-grade children (Black et al., 2013).

    Emotional Benefits

    Emotional health, which is a positive sense of well-being, is an important component of child and adolescent development. Emotional problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression can affect self-esteem, performance, and social interaction to a great extent in students. Recent findings suggest that mindfulness practice may facilitate the ability to manage stress and lead to improved well-being in students.

    According to a study by Schonert-Reichl and his colleagues (2010), mindfulness practice leads to higher scores on self-report measures of optimism and positive emotions in elementary school students. Moreover, in a study conducted by Wall (2005), self-reported findings showed children feeling calmer, had an enhanced experience of well-being, and improved sleep after a 5-week modified mindfulness-based stress reduction program in 11-13 years of age.

    Guidelines for teaching mindfulness programs at schools

    1. Make sure the students are ready to give mindfulness a try; if they are full of energy and itching to run and play, it may not be the best time for practicing mindfulness for the first time.
    2. Explain what mindfulness is and what it is not; give examples of what might be similar to mindfulness (i.e., introspection, chasing thoughts down the “rabbit hole”), but is not truly mindfulness.
    3. Say it in an age-appropriate way; put it in words they will understand but take care not to make them feel like you are talking down to them.
    4. Offer to practice mindfulness with them; having a model makes a difference.
    5. Assure them that it’s okay to get off track, and share with them how to gently guide themselves back to mindfulness.
    6. Afterwards, finish the practice by doing something they enjoy with them to ensure they have a positive experience.

    A Take Home Message

    Plenty of research shows that mindfulness is capable of improving mental health and well-being, attention, self-regulation, and social competency when well taught and practiced in children and adolescents.

    Introducing mindfulness-based programs in schools and in everyday practice can have a life-long impact on the psychological, social, and cognitive well-being of children and teens. So go out and help your child to practice and enjoy simple mindfulness exercises when they are young, and remember this old saying:

    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

    To find out more about offering mindfulness programs at your school contact us here

     

    Video on Mindfulness in Schools

     

    References

    • Zhang, D., Chan, S. K. C., Lo, H. H. M., Chan, C. Y. H., Chan, J. C. Y., Ting, K. T., Gao, T. T., Lai, K. Y. C., Bögels, S. M., & Wong, S. Y. S. (2016). Mindfulness-based intervention for Chinese children with ADHD and their parents: A pilot mixed-method study. Mindfulness, 8, 1-14. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0660-3
    • Zhou, Z., Liu, Q., Niu, G., Sun, X., & Fan, C. (2017). Bullying victimization and depression in Chinese children: A moderated mediation model of resilience and mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences, 104,137-142. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.07.040
    • Crescentini, C., Capurso, V., Furlan, S., & Fabbro, F. (2016). Mindfulness-oriented meditation for primary school children: Effects on attention and psychological well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00805
    • Flook, L., Smalley, S. L., Kitil, M. J., Galla, B. M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., ... & Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology26(1), 70-95.
    • Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based kindness curriculum. Developmental psychology51(1), 44.
    • Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness training for elementary school students: The attention academy. Journal of Applied School Psychology21(1), 99-125.
    • Black, D.S., & Fernando, R. (2013). Mindfulness training and classroom behavior among lower income and ethnic minority elementary school children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-5.
    • Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Lawlor, M. S. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre-and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness1(3), 137-151.
    • Wall, R. B. (2005). Tai chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction in a Boston public middle school. Journal of Pediatric Health Care19(4), 230-237.