MCTP: Mindfulness for Children, Teachers and Parents. 

Mindfulness practices have been used with great success in a number of settings from hospitals to Fortune 500 companies. There are countless studies that show how effective a daily mindfulness practice can be in reducing stress and anxiety, and enriching people’s lives. 

Metta Inc. in partnership with Present Moment Labs is breaking new ground by bringing mindfulness to children in elementary schools with special needs, their teachers and their parents.  One of Our long-term goals is to serve children with special needs all the way through high school. Metta will fund the programs and Present Moment Labs will implement them. We live in a stressful culture infused with an onslaught of information and negativity.  Many children are further stressed by poverty, violence and hunger. There is a great need to regulate our nervous systems. Mindfulness teaches us how to pause, quiet and regulate ourselves so that we can engage with more calm and clarity. These skills enable us to respond instead of react.

Do you know a school or school district that might be interested in mindfulness? Contact us!

Research on Mindfulness for Students

There have been numerous studies that correlate mindfulness practices with positive outcomes.

The following information has been compiled by Mindfulness for Children  (http://mindfulnessforchildren.org/research/):

randomized-controlled study done during the 2011-12 school year demonstrated the social and emotional benefits that occurred over a 6 week time period using mindfulness practices.  Children showed an increase in attention, calmness, social compliance, and caring towards others.

Research has found that mindfulness training for children increases attention and social emotional awareness.

  • Students are able to stay more focused and pay more attention in class.

  • Awareness of their body, thoughts, and emotions increase.

  • They experience less test anxiety.

  • Classroom management improves because mindfulness improves impulse control and interpersonal skills.

  • Executive function increases, a key predictor of academic success.

Mindfulness Training leads to structural changes in the brain that develop and enhance the qualities  of:

  • kindness

  • patience

  • compassion

  • attunement to others

  • increases executive function

  • better impulse control

  • longer attention spans

It has been shown effective in treating illness, anxiety, stress, and depression.

The Mindfulness in Schools Project or MISP, a charity in the United Kingdom, has since 2009 implemented a mindfulness curriculum for schools in the UK. They have trained students and their teachers in  mindfulness at the elementary and secondary levels. In February of 2019 the British government commissioned a two-year study involving 370 schools to determine which mindfulness techniques work best to help children manage stress and anxiety. The United States has not seen large scale efforts to bring mindfulness to the general population of school age students nor to children with special needs.

Implementation 

Children grades first through 5th/6th participating in the program will receive materials such as printed mindfulness flashcards and digital flashcards which are accessed using tablets or laptops. Teachers will receive  manuals that provide step-by-step instructions on how to use the flashcards and implement the program. Students will be allowed to take flashcards home if school policy allows. Early in the process Metta will encourage teachers to invite parents to their school to learn the benefits of using the mindfulness flashcards. Parents will be encouraged to use the flashcards with their children every day, treating it like any other homework assignment.

Through visualization and play ,mindfulness guides children through a breath by breath journey discovering body awareness and calming the mind.

Mindfulness playground

Another program that we will bring to schools is the idea of a mindfulness playground. This could include activities and materials geared toward mindfulness such  as, mindful music moment , mindful games and mindful fun yoga exercises. The teacher could designate a particular time of day during which the children would get to choose what mindfulness related activity they would like to participate in. Activities could either be done in the classroom or outside. The mindfulness playground would provide a different way to engage students from just using the flashcards. Making mindfulness a playful activity would probably encourage children to accept it more easily as a part of their normal every day lives. 

Metta will provide Teachers   assistance both online and by phone where questions can be answered, and help given with any issues they are encountering. 

Mindfulness Certification Training for Educators

A mindfulness classroom begins with the teacher. Teachers are active in delivering the curriculum. Mindfulness teacher training develops resilience, self-awareness and compassion so that teachers serve as a role model and guide for their students. Mindfulness Certification Training for Educators or MCTE will be available to teachers at no cost if they would like to pursue more indepth study. This training is separate from the mindfulness flashcards. 

Research/ Before and After

In order to learn more about the effectiveness of the flashcards program,  METTA will conduct surveys of teachers that assesses their students both before and after the flashcard program is administered.  The surveys will measure changes in student’s in levels of anxiety and stress to determine the difference made by the flashcard program. In addition, the feedback from teachers collected in the surveys will be used to determine whether the mindfulness curriculum needs to be tweaked or significant changes need to be made.

Conclusion

It only makes sense that this set of tools which has benefited so many adults and children should now be available, to children with special needs. It is not just the children that Metta  and Present Moment Labs are striving to serve but their teachers, parents, siblings and friends with the goal of making this a more mindful world.

Additional research:

Research Articles

1. Visit the Research and Evidence from the Mindfulness in Schools Project to learn more about the benefits of the 8-week .b curriculum program for teens. There is also a page that goes over Research and Evidence on Mindfulness for young people in general.

2. Schools completed a randomized research project on in-class intervention in mindfulness. Random Fernando, the executive director has an inspiring slide presentation with the findings.

The Association for Mindfulness in Education research page has many articles on studies that have been done:

3. The Columbia Teacher’s College offered Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to 9-13 year olds.  Its study demonstrated that upon completion there were fewer attention problems and increased social emotional resilience.

4. A study done with First to Third Gradersin Arizona shows an increase in social emotional behaviors and decrease in ADHD and test anxiety.

5. After completing an 8-week mindfulness program, second and Third graders demonstrated an increase in their executive function.6.This study by Randye Simplesuggests that mindfulness can decrease anxiety in children.