by Stephanie McCauley
For years, researchers have been studying the benefits of mindfulness on adult psychology. Now, they’re moving their efforts into schools, where students are learning to focus on the present through mindfulness techniques.
Being mindful involves tuning into the present moment and paying attention to one’s feelings and surroundings in a nonjudgmental way. While this practice has emotional benefits, it may also help students improve academically by focusing their attention. One 2015 study reported actual improvement in math grades from students who had engaged in a meditation program.
Practicing mindfulness may also decrease incidences of bullying and aggression. Mindfulness courses designed for schools can increase attention and focus, reduce stress, and improve impulse control. Secondary students have reported feeling less depressed and anxious after 6 months in a mindfulness program.
And, according to a Chicago research team, practicing mindfulness might even help disadvantaged kids close the achievement gap. Many disadvantaged students have chaotic home lives and are consequently distracted at school. By practicing mindfulness in the classroom, these students may be able to tackle schoolwork with renewed focus.
The mindfulness movement complements the social-emotional learning already taught in many schools. It will be interesting to see how this movement changes and grows, especially with the increased focus on “grit.” For the moment, researches are cautious, but optimistic. Equipping kids with this tool now may make for more successful young adults later on.