Friday, November 6, 2009

Mindfulness in Elementary Schools

Not to be too cynical, but with all the programs that have been and are being cut, I sometimes wonder if there is any reason to send a child to school anymore.

But, on the bright side, people are beginning to understand that character development mostly happens during the developmental years and if we would like to prevent future mental illness, this is period of time to act.

Mindfulness isn’t prevalent in the school curriculum, but it is growing. This paper discusses the mindfulness program at a school in Los Angeles.

“There was less conflict on the playground, less test anxiety—just the way the kids walked into the classroom was different. Our state test scores also went up that year, which I’d like to attribute to my teaching but I think had more to do with the breathing
they did right before they took the test.”

“…many schools are adopting mindfulness trainings because the techniques are easy to learn and can help children become ‘more responsive and less reactive, more focused and less distracted, [and] more calm and less stressed.’ While mindfulness can produce internal benefits to kids, the Garrison report also found that it can create a more positive learning environment, where kids are primed to pay attention.”

Locally, psychologist Kimberly Schonert-Reichl recently finished a pilot project on
mindfulness in six Vancouver schools with positive results (which is also discussed in the same publication).

“…results also showed that these children were less aggressive, less oppositional toward teachers, and more attentive in class. Those who received the mindfulness training also reported feeling more positive emotion and optimism, and seemed more introspective than children who were on a waitlist for the training.”

The project site for this research can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. I thought school was for free stationary. I got all F's but that's just because I was so good they didn't know I was stealing it.

    I don't know if I mentioned this in an e-mail but the kids (and I) meditate every morning. I haven't noticed a huge difference in behaviour between them and the 12 year olds I watch at the playground in Canada, but I think that has more to do with the lack of discapline from the teachers.