Mindfulness in Schools: The Time is Now

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I clicked a link on Twitter or Facebook the other day (can’t remember which) and was taken to a Huffington Post article about mindfulness programs in schools, even for kids as young as five.

Right on!  Generations of students have fussed and fidgeted through school, either bored or over-stimulated.  Frankly, you couldn’t pay me enough money to be a teenage student today–WAY too much stress, which is the point of developing mindfulness programs.

While the article focused on teen studies in Belgium and the UK, a mental health survey in the U.S. reportedly found that 10 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds suffer with anxiety disorder.

We have to do something!

Our constantly on, 24/7 culture isn’t all that great for adults, but imagine the pressure on young minds to keep up.  Many of you don’t have to imagine–you live it with your kids.

You can do the research . . . I’m only offering ideas and kicking thoughts around . . . but why would educators and school districts not be open to offering yoga classes, breathing workshops or mindfulness training?

A non-profit organization in California called Mindful Schools teaches adults how to integrate mindfulness into school curriculum.  The group just released results of a 780-child survey in Oakland in which the control group was given only four hours of mindfulness training over a six-week period.

With that little amount of training, the results seem staggering to me.  Behavioral improvements like paying attention went from three percent to 10 percent and showing care for others from three percent to nine percent.

Imagine if the time frame were longer or if parents/caregivers became involved.

Then there’s the big picture

What if, over time and after incorporating mindfulness training into schools, incidences of  bullying and violence went down?  What if sitting in silent, guided meditation caused drug usage to drop and attendance rates to rise?

Maybe I’m pie-in-the-sky here, but WHAT IF?

I understand there are dictums in place and that we can’t have a bunch of rogue teachers professing the attributes of practicing mindfulness.

Or can we?

What do you think?  I’m interested in the conversation around this issue.  Let’s hear from some teachers and parents.  Is this a crazy new-age idea or an idea whose time has come?

A principle in the UK said that “mindfulness is a discipline that can help us tap into our students’ potential.”

I say what are we waiting for?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of kakisky.

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Beth,

    Great topic. Having been a former teacher, I can tell you that children would benefit from mindfulness training. They are stressed at an early age, over programmed and often align their value with how much they have rather than their value system. The road block will be parents who feel that it is a religious cult as they mentioned in the Huffington article. Yoga and meditation would be wonderful additions to the school curriculum.

    I have often thought I would have loved to create a mini Al-Anon meeting in the classroom, with appropriate guidelines or “steps” and a chance for children to express their feelings in a safe environment. There is a book that I used while teaching called “Tribes” that helped develop children’s social skills. It was good, but even deeper work would be helpful.

    • Beth says:

      It does seem like a no-brainer, doesn’t it, Cathy? Thank God for teachers like you who walk a fine line while incorporating creative (outside the “norm”) ways to help our kids.

      I know you were a terrific teacher–you still are!

  2. Galen Pearl says:

    My daughter went to a small school for the end of elementary school that taught meditation to all students. I loved that!

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