One way in which educators can support the mental health and well-being of their students is by bringing mindfulness activities into the classroom. Mindfulness meditation involves deliberately and repeatedly bringing one’s attention to thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise in the present moment. These experiences are greeted with an open, curious, and non-judgmental attitude [1]. Mindfulness meditation fosters self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-regulation [2], which are critical components of social and emotional learning.

Educators are increasingly using mindfulness-based programs to promote the social and emotional well-being of students across Ontario and beyond. A review of existing programs suggests that mindfulness can be incorporated into the classroom as early as Kindergarten, and positive outcomes can be achieved with students of all ages [3]. 

Research has shown that students who took part in mindfulness-based programs saw improvements in:

  • executive function skills, including behavioural regulation and metacognition, compared to a randomized control group [4];
  • attention skills [5], and
  • emotion regulation [6]. 

Students also experienced reductions in physiological correlates of stress, such as blood pressure and heart rate [7]. After mindfulness training, students reported less negative affect and a greater sense of calm and relaxation [8], in addition to improvements in overall well-being [9]. Youth exhibiting symptoms of mental health difficulties and emotional disturbance experience reductions in anxiety[10] and depression [11] after participating in a mindfulness-based program at school. Secondary students with LDs who meditated for 5 – 10 minutes at the beginning of class every day for five weeks demonstrated significant improvements in their social skills and academic achievement, and significant reductions in anxiety and behaviour problems [12]. Overall, mindfulness-based programs appear to enhance students’ abilities to regulate their behaviour, attention, and emotion.

Preview of mindfulness guide document

To learn more about how you can bring mindfulness into your classroom, click here to access the guide Mindfulness Practices for the Classroom, which includes mindfulness exercises for all ages. 

[1] Segal et al., 2002; Williams et al., 2007

[2]  Bishop et al., 2004; Black et al., 2011

[3] Burke, 2010

[4] Flook et al., 2010

[5] Napoli et al., 2005

[6] Mendelson et al., 2010

[7] Barnes et al., 2004

[8] Broderick & Metz, 2009

[9] Huppert and Johnson, 2010

[10] Beauchemin et al., 2008; Semple et al., 2010; Smith-Carrier & Gallinaro, 2013

[11] Joyce et al., 2010; Kuyken et al., 2013

[12] Beauchemin et al., 2008