Here's Why a Little "Om" in the Classroom Could Go a Long Way
Mindfulness, aka focusing on being aware in the present moment through meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises, has numerous mental health benefits for adults. But what about when it comes to kids? According to recent studies, introducing concepts of meditation and mindfulness into the classroom can have some serious perks for students and teachers alike.
Whether their teacher introduces a postlunch stretch or a morning deep-breathing session, allowing kids to focus on themselves and their bodies for just 10 minutes a day can really go a long way when it comes to academic performance.
Here's how making meditation commonplace in your kid's classroom — or at home, so they can take their learnings into school with them — can help them reach their goals even faster.
It Will Give Their Grades a Serious Boost
Believe it or not, being mindful in the classroom can actually give your children a leg up when it comes to taking standardized tests. Research published in Applied Cognitive Psychology concluded there's a definite correlation between doing meditative practices in the classroom and scoring better on tests. Why's that? Meditating is known to decrease stress and make nerves more manageable.
"Mindfulness enhances emotion regulation and cognitive performance," the study said. "A mindful approach may be especially beneficial in high-stakes academic testing environments, in which anxious thoughts disrupt cognitive control."
While the research is certainly limited at this point, there have been no negative consequences for kids when it comes to meditating in the classroom.
Their Attention Span Will Improve
If your kids are struggling to keep their heads out of the clouds during their afternoon Spanish class, adding a little bit of meditation to their routine could be the key to nipping that afternoon slump in the bud.
And if your child struggles with any attention problems like ADD or ADHD, there was an even larger improvement according to a study by the Proceedings of National Academies of Science of the United States of America (PNAS). It found that people who started meditating on a regular basis had a longer attention span, even if they were in the middle of mundane task, compared to before.
In-Class Behavior Gets Better
There's no such thing as being too well-behaved when it comes to little kids and school. For those who tend to act out while they're parked in front of the blackboard, practicing mindfulness in some capacity each day can have a positive effect.
One study found that after eight weeks of mindfulness training, children were more aware of themselves mentally and tended to show more empathy to others — which resulted in less fighting and arguments between students. Since yoga and meditation encourage kids to be more in touch with themselves, they were much less likely to lash out at their classmates during a disagreement.
It's Especially Beneficial For Kids in High-Risk Schools
While it's pretty clear that teaching school-age kids how to be mindful has its upsides regardless of socioeconomic status, kids enrolled in low-income school districts can reap even more benefits.
Look at the difference in Visitacion Valley Middle School after the school principal developed a "Quiet Time" program, which gave students two 15-minute periods each day to meditate or engage in a quiet activity like reading. The results were overwhelmingly positive — absenteeism decreased by 98 percent, and students saw a bump in their GPA each year.