Mindfulness in Schools

Over 80 schools in the U.S. have begun to incorporate meditation-type exercises into their educational curriculum in order to improve students’ attention, self-regulation and emotional well-being (Jha, 2005).

Mindful Schools’ program is inexpensive to deliver and it is readily replicable. As budget cuts decimate expensive anti-bullying, character building, and conflict resolution programs, mindfulness can gently replace them.

Teacher Stresses

  • Time and workload pressures
  • Teaching students who are difficult to motivate
  • Discipline issues
  • Add-ons to the curriculum
  • Being evaluated
  • Relationships with colleagues, administration, parents
  • Balance between work and personal life

How to do mindfulness in schools?

  • Throughout the U.S. mindfulness programs offer a wide range of techniques including: attention training practices, mindfulness-based stress reduction, meditation, and yoga
    • These activities can occur during structured and set times, formally, or informally, and occur throughout small segments before, during, and after the school day
  • Mindfulness in schools takes on a systems approach, meaning that mindfulness training is offered to all students in addition to all school staff, administration, and teachers
  • The multi-layered approach to training can potentially increase the beneficial effects of mindfulness training, as well as foster a sustainable learning environment

Formal classroom training

  • Students receive weekly in-class training in formal mindfulness practices
    • Formal practices are designed to enhance an ongoing awareness of moment-to moment mind-body experiences, including those of cognitive, emotional, kinesthetic, and sensory 
    • Their purpose is to cultivate the capacity to be mindful during in-class sessions and in daily life
  • Weekly sessions also include didactic presentations, group sharing of practice-related and other experiences, and instruction about at-home mindfulness practice assignments

Changes through Mindfulness in Schools

  • Mindfulness teaches children to pay attention – unquestionably the most important tool in school
  • Mindfulness enhances students’ and teachers’ impulse control – the basis of good classroom management
  • Mindfulness reduces stress for students, teachers and administrators
    • This improves learning, as the hippocampus (brain’s memory center) shuts down when stressed
  • School climates become calmer, people treat one another more kindly
  • Mindfulness helps students develop an internal compass and they internalize pro-social behavior

What Teens Have Said about Professional-led Mindfulness Practice

“I felt that the course was a success for me and though my moods and stress levels fluctuate often. I feel more confident in my ability to help myself. The class is made much more enjoyable having people of my age going through the same thing”

“I liked coming here because it gave me 2 hours away from home. It tought me some ways to deal with stress and problems that I was having.”