- Education and Science
Reading, Writing, Math and Yoga?
Why Mindfulness in School Makes Sense.
For years, studies have shown positive effects on both the physical and emotional health of adults who practice yoga or meditation regularly. That’s probably not real surprising to those of you already reaping the benefits.
But there is also growing evidence that mindfulness and yoga practices can make a positive impact on children of all ages. That's right. Adding yoga and meditation to the K-12 curriculum could do wonders for our children. And there is proof that is the case.
The Results Are in
Recently, two systematic reviews and twenty individual studies of mindfulness interventions with school-aged children have been published in scientific journals.
It involved all age ranges, including children without any known health issues, and others with a variety of mental and physical health problems and took place in school, clinical and community contexts.
The results were overwhelming. Children and teachers who took part reported improved mental, emotional, social and physical well-being. The practice also brought about reduced stress, anxiety and bad behavior. Overall, subjects reported greater calmness, relaxation, improved self-esteem and sleep.
In addition, the study found the following additional positive effects of mindfulness:
- It's easy to teach in a classroom setting and is enjoyable by both teachers and students alike.
- It is shown to improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health of children who take part in it.
- It can curb aggression and other unwanted behaviors in schools.
- It's practice in school can improve both cognitive and performance skills and increase positive decision making.
- It can help children pay greater attention in a classroom setting and be more focused. It has also been proven to enhance memory, problem solving and reasoning skills in children.
Even Time Magazine Agrees
According to a January 2015 Time Magazine article titled "Mindfulness Exercises Improve Kids Math Scores", a trial that was done in the journal Develpomental Psychology on fourth and fifth grade public school students, found that mindfulness exercises improved math scores by 15% compared to students who did not practice it.
In addition, "For the four months, researchers analyzed all kinds of in-depth measures, like behavioral assessments, cortisol levels, children’s self-reports of their own wellbeing, reviews from their peers about sociability and the objective academic scores of math grades."
The findings were dramatic. In addition to the 15% improvement in math, children who had the training were 24% less aggressive and perceived themselves as 20% more engaged socially. They also "outperformed their peers in cognitive control, stress levels, emotional control, optimism and empathy."
Kindergarteners Learn Mindfulness
In conclusion, “Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive skills and executive function. It can help young people pay greater attention, be more focused and think in more innovative ways.” See the Mindfulness in Schools Project.
The studies also show that children who are mindful tend to have more positive emotions in school and have a larger circle of friends. Overall, they also experienced less anxiety than other students.
It’s no wonder these programs are showing up in several states. Imagine what bringing them into the classroom could mean for schools around the country.