Mindfulness in Schools – The Connection to Learning

The Connection To Learning 

It has long since been proven by Science that when we, and this includes our children, are stressed, anxious, bored or unhappy, we are much less able to respond effectively to problems and to take in new information – learning, in fact, is greatly and negatively impacted as the brain clenches like a fist. Science has also shown that if we are happy, relaxed and curious the brain opens like a flower. This helps to remember and properly process information, as well as, respond positively to stress. The MindUp program (Reception-Grade 2; Grades 3-5; Grades 6-8) is a research – based social and emotional program that teaches children and youth mindfulness-based tools and practices, positive psychology and the neuroscience of how these support and enhance learning. The structure of MIndUp helps to create a community in the classroom that provides a safe haven imbued with joy and optimism that counter-balances the fear and hopelessness that our children are met with daily.

The MINDUP Program

The essence of this fully integrated into the existing curriculum program is that children learn the simple biology of their own brain. Understanding how our brain works gives rise to the notion that we are able to choose to change the way we interact with the world to get the best outcomes for ourselves, our world and others. They learn:

  •     How and why the emotional part of the brain can hijack the clear -thinking areas that keep us focused and calm
  •     Where their emotions come from
  •     To become more self-aware
  •     To manage and reduce their own stress
  •     To effectively control how they respond to the outside world
  •     How their thoughts and feelings affect their behaviour
  •     The effect breathing has on the brain
  •     To appreciate the sensory aspects of their lives and what responses these evoke
  •     To explore their emotional states, and are taught social and interpersonal skills
  •     How to self-reflect

The Lessons

In short lesson extensions that comprise hands-on experiencing and knowledge access that serve to enhance their learning  children and youth are encouraged to do the following:

  •     Learn how their brain reacts to emotions so that they can bring themselves back to a neutral point
  •     Take daily ‘brain breaks’ and focus on breathing
  •     Practise mindful sensing – exploring sight, hearing, taste, smell and motion
  •     Consider the difference between optimism and pessimism
  •     Learn to savour happiness
  •     Engage in practical problem-solving and critical thinking
  •     Learn perspective and how to view differing results
  •     Focus on compassion and empathy
  •     Discover the importance of generosity and a sense of social responsibility
  •     Perform random acts of kindness

    The Results

There have been several independently funded research programs (mostly conducted in USA and UK schools at this point) to measure the effects of the 15 lesson MindUP program. Here are some of the findings:

  •     Better reading scores
  •     Less absenteeism
  •     25% reduction in aggression on the playground
  •     Better attention and more concentration
  •     Quicker reactivity in answering questions and responding to teachers
  •     Better interpersonal relationships
  •     Improved ability to manage stress
  •     63% rise in optimism
  •     Improved classroom behaviour
  •     More engaged in learning
  •     Decrease in depression and increase in ability to control emotions
  •     Increased positive test results
  •     Greater working memory
  •     Increased ability to adjust to change
  •     Increased good judgement and decision-making
  •     Children were kinder, more trustworthy, helpful, better liked, less likely to break rules and start fights

Please feel free to contact me for further details and to discuss possibilities for bringing Mindfulness to your school.