The Hidden Benefits of Teaching Mindfulness for Students (And Teachers)

Photo of Jeanne Sager
Updated | 3 min read

You’ve got a lot to teach this year and only 180 days to fit it all in … so should you really be teaching mindfulness on top of all the core competencies your students need this year?

It’s certainly popular. Teachers from Houston, Texas to LaCrosse, Wisconsin have added in regular mindfulness practices for students, helping kids learn to calm the body and mind with everything from yoga to meditation. But what’s the fuss about teaching mindfulness in schools?

We dug into the research!

Benefits of Mindfulness for Students

The concept of mindfulness for kids, and specifically mindfulness in the classroom, has been around long enough that there’s a growing body of research on what effect it really has on the students.

Stress Reduction

A small study of sixth-graders performed by MIT researchers at a Boston charter school shows promising news when it comes to teaching mindfulness in schools a reducing student stress.

MIT researchers gave half the students eight weeks of mindfulness training while a control group didn’t get the mindfulness activities. The former group reported lower stress and fewer negative feelings than their peers. But here’s where things get really interesting: When the researchers looked at brain imaging studies of some of the students, they found evidence to confirm what the students were saying! Before their mindfulness training, students saw higher stress levels in their amygdala when they saw images of people showing fearful faces. After the mindfulness training, those stress levels were decreased.

The MIT study isn’t the only one to link teaching mindfulness in schools to stress-reduction benefits either. In a Johns Hopkins study, students in Baltimore elementary schools did yoga several times a week and started off their day with a two-minute-long mindfulness exercise. The result? Less rumination and fewer intrusive thoughts.

These stress-relief resources could be just the ticket for your classroom:

Image of Stress Management Techniques for Students PowerPoint

teaching resource

Stress Management Techniques for Students PowerPoint

An editable PowerPoint presentation to use when teaching your students about stress management.

Teach Starter Publishing30 pagesGrades: 3 - 6

Better Test Scores

In another MIT study, researchers asked some 2,000 students in middle school to fill out a questionnaire that would evaluate their mindfulness. They then compared the students’ responses to their test scores and grades. The result showed a pretty key benefit of mindfulness for students: Those with more mindfulness tended to have better grades and test scores.

Self-Efficacy

Wondering how to motivate your students to take more responsibility for themselves and their education? This could be another benefit of mindfulness education, at least from the looks of a small study completed in Europe among school kids. The children were found to have improved school-specific self-efficacy and self-regulation after taking part in mindfulness activities in the classroom.

Better Behavior

Along with better self-regulation, teaching mindfulness in school has been linked to better behavior management overall. In Richmond, California, for example, researchers found that teachers reported better behavior in their elementary classrooms after just seven weeks of mindfulness being incorporated into the day. Kids were paying more attention in class too!

Thinking about adding mindfulness in your classroom? Check out our full array of mindfulness activities for kids to get started in your classroom, or try some of the resources below:

Image of Free Mindfulness Booster Pack

resource pack

Free Mindfulness Booster Pack

A free sample pack that includes six Mindfulness resources.

Teach Starter Publishing73 pagesGrades: PK - 6
Image of Affirmations - Classroom Display Cards

teaching resource

Affirmations - Classroom Display Cards

A set of 25 affirmation display cards for your classroom

Teach Starter Publishing25 pagesGrades: 2 - 6
Image of Mindful Breathing Activity for Kids

video

Mindful Breathing Activity for Kids

A calming, square-breathing exercise to introduce kids to mindfulness in the classroom.

Teach Starter PublishingGrades: K - 63 mins
Image of Yoga Poses for Kids - Task Cards

teaching resource

Yoga Poses for Kids - Task Cards

16 kid friendly yoga poses to display and use in the classroom for daily gross motor and fitness activities.

Teach Starter Publishing8 pagesGrades: K - 6

 

Banner image via Shutterstock/Drazen Zigic

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