- Mindfulness has become a leading social-emotional learning trend in schools, and a range of studies have shown it to have positive effects on students' emotional health as well as academic outcomes.
- Edutopia reports a 2014 Dutch study found students who participated in 30-minute mindfulness sessions twice per week for six weeks had lower stress levels, greater well-being and better behavior than their peers — and a 2015 study of students in high-poverty, urban middle schools that participated in mindfulness-based stress reduction had less stress and depression and an increased ability to cope with challenging situations.
- On the academic side, a 2015 study found fourth- and fifth-graders participating in a 12-week mindfulness program had 15% higher math grades than their peers, among other things, and a 2016 study of middle schoolers in a four-week mindfulness program found participating students had significantly improved working memory capacity.
Early introduction of mindfulness to schools focused on improving mindsets and helping students develop skills to cope with trauma, focus and improve their own well-being. In many circles, it has been considered inappropriate to use mindfulness as a direct strategy to improve test scores, but educators have found, if only anecdotally, that addressing mindfulness directly improves students’ ability to perform academically.
It’s fairly intuitive. If students can learn to center themselves and control their emotions, they can prepare themselves to better focus on classroom assignments. This means more time on task, even if classroom time is dedicated to mindfulness instead of content-based lessons.