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Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students: The Attention Academy

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Abstract

Mindfulness is the cognitive propensity to be aware of what is happening in the moment without judgment or attachment to any particular outcome. This concept flies in the face of modern, Western philosophical outcomes-based thinking about events and activities. This article presents results of a formative evaluation of whether participation in a mindfulness training program affected first, second, and third grade students' outcomes on measures of attention. The training was designed and intended to help students learn to focus and pay attention. The 24-week training employed a series of exercises including breathwork, bodyscan, movement, and sensorimotor awareness activities. Results from three attentional measures administered to the students show significant differences between those who did and did not participate in mindfulness practice training. Results are discussed and recommendations are made for future work in this developing field of interest.
... More recently, mindfulness-based practices have been implemented within grade school classrooms worldwide to target self-regulation, attention, and general classroom behavior (Black & Fernando, 2014, Malboeuf-Hurtubise et al., 2017, Napoli et al., 2005, Sapthiang et al., 2019, Sciutto et al., 2021, Willis & Dinehart, 2014. Mindful programs generally result in positive impacts on schoolaged children within the domains of academic achievement (e.g., through improved attentional control) (e.g., Bakosh et al., 2016, Hanceroglu, 2017, Shoval, 2011, social and emotional well-being (e.g., Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010, Semple et al., 2010, Wall, 2005 and improvements in both symptoms of internalizing and externalizing disorders (e.g., Bögels et al., 2008, Felver et al., 2013, Malboeuf-Hurtubise et al., 2017, Napoli et al., 2005, Sciutto et al., 2021, Singh et al., 2010. ...
... More recently, mindfulness-based practices have been implemented within grade school classrooms worldwide to target self-regulation, attention, and general classroom behavior (Black & Fernando, 2014, Malboeuf-Hurtubise et al., 2017, Napoli et al., 2005, Sapthiang et al., 2019, Sciutto et al., 2021, Willis & Dinehart, 2014. Mindful programs generally result in positive impacts on schoolaged children within the domains of academic achievement (e.g., through improved attentional control) (e.g., Bakosh et al., 2016, Hanceroglu, 2017, Shoval, 2011, social and emotional well-being (e.g., Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010, Semple et al., 2010, Wall, 2005 and improvements in both symptoms of internalizing and externalizing disorders (e.g., Bögels et al., 2008, Felver et al., 2013, Malboeuf-Hurtubise et al., 2017, Napoli et al., 2005, Sciutto et al., 2021, Singh et al., 2010. For instance, Bakosh et al. (2016) investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness-based social and emotional learning program on the academic performance of third graders. ...
... Although mindfulness practice has been found to benefit children in a number of ways (Black & Fernando, 2014, Malboeuf-Hurtubise et al., 2017, Napoli et al., 2005, Sapthiang et al., 2019, Sciutto et al., 2021, Willis & Dinehart, 2014, research on children's perspectives of mindfulness in the classroom are limited (Sapthiang et al., 2019). The present study thus adds to the paucity of literature on students' opinions of mindfulness in the classroom and further speaks to children's opinions on the implementation of these programs and their associated outcomes, which are critical for improving classroom-based mindfulness programs (Dariotis et al., 2017). ...
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In recent years, mindfulness-based practices in grade schools have been associated with students’ improved cognitive skills and general classroom behavior. In the majority of studies, however, only teacher and parent feedback are elicited, omitting a considerably significant voice – that of the students. Our study aims to fill this gap by exploring student opinions and perceptions regarding the implementation of a classroom-based mindfulness program. Elementary school students (N = 51) took part in teacher-facilitated mindfulness activities which were incorporated into their daily classroom routines. Over the course of the 8-week intervention period, students participated in focus groups about their perceptions of the program. Through qualitative content analysis, two major findings emerged from the focus group data: student opinions about the mindfulness program varied substantially and the mindfulness activities were not always liked and enjoyed. Critically, if students do not enjoy classroom-based mindfulness programs, they may be less motivated to engage in mindful activities and in turn may not experience the benefits that mindfulness has to offer. To maximize student engagement with mindfulness while addressing their concerns, the following recommendations are made: A balance between the entertaining and educational aspects of the program, flexible program delivery, and encouraging students to pursue mindful living outside of the classroom. This research is important to educational and clinical practitioners as student insight will benefit the development and modification of classroom-based mindfulness programs to ensure that students are better able to engage with and benefit from these programs.
... One possible pathway that mindfulness-based therapies (MBT) may lead to beneficial outcomes for children with ADHD is that they may strengthen deficient EF processes through training and extended practice. Indeed, empirical studies of MBT among elementary-aged children have shown improvements in executive function (Crooks et al., 2020;Diamond, 2012;Diamond & Lee, 2011;Flook et al., 2010), self-regulated attention (Meiklejohn et al., 2012;Napoli et al., 2005), and effortful control (Zelazo & Lyons, 2012), with some studies showing that individuals who possess deficient EF skills at baseline stand to improve the most at post-test measures of EF after receiving MBT (Flook et al., 2010(Flook et al., , 2015. While these findings among non-diagnosed samples are promising, no controlled study has directly investigated whether children with ADHD, who often present with EF deficits, will benefit from MBT. ...
... Current prevalence rates indicate roughly 10% of children have ADHD (Danielson et al., 2018), such that an estimated three-hundred thousand children who have received mindfulness within the school setting likely have or qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. Of importance, the majority of studies that have evaluated mindfulness interventions and found improvements in emotion regulation (Semple et al., 2010), executive functioning (Crooks et al., 2020;Flook et al., 2010;Thierry et al., 2016), academic grades (Schonert-Reichl et al., 2015), and attention (Black & Fernando, 2014;Meiklejohn et al., 2012;Napoli et al., 2005;Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010) have been with non-diagnosed samples of children -as such, there is a gap in the research of whether children with ADHD benefit from MBTs that are increasingly being provided at the school-wide level and are being delivered, presumably, to youth with ADHD. ...
Article
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder defined by pervasive symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Furthermore, children with ADHD show marked deficits in executive functioning (EF) such as attention, effortful control, and behavior, and are more likely to have poor self-regulatory skills. Current evidence-based interventions for children with ADHD include behavioral treatment (BT), psychopharmacological treatment, and their combination. Many other interventions are often used conjunction with or in lieu of evidence-based treatments for ADHD. One such example is the use of mindfulness-based interventions which have been shown to improve attention, reduce maladaptive behaviors, and increase self-regulatory abilities among children in general education settings. The current study is the first to evaluate the effect of mindfulness intervention in combination with BT on behavior, task-based executive functioning (EF), and mindful awareness in elementary-aged children with ADHD (N = 58). The study took place in a controlled analogue summer program setting (STP) in which children were randomized to receive either the mindfulness intervention in conjunction with BT or to a BT active control condition. Children completed a variety of EF cognitive tasks at baseline and post-treatment. Child behavioral responses were measured as teacher and staff-recorded frequencies of observed behavior. In addition, parent-reported and child self-reported measures on mindful awareness were collected. Overall, there were no beneficial incremental effects of mindfulness when used in combination with intensive BT with regard to observed child behavior, attention and inhibitory control, or mindful awareness.
... From the results of limited observations and interviews, students admitted that learning mathematics with the batik approach was "easier to understand" because they no longer felt afraid or anxious during the learning process. It follows the opinion of previous researchers (Napoli et al., 2005;Klatt et al., 2013). ...
... It is also in line with the results of several studies. research that has been done (Napoli et al., 2005;Klatt et al., 2013;DeMoss & Morris, 2002;Winner & Cooper, 2000). Using the learning method, the highest response indicator is students' activeness in the discussion 92.6% ...
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The integration of art into mathematics is currently still carried out by paying attention to the aesthetic value of student projects. However, its use has not been found to expand artistic or cultural values knowledge. This study aims to conduct a study related to the integration of batik art in mathematics learning on the topic of circles in elementary schools, where batik art contains not only aesthetic meaning but also cultural values and is the identity of the Indonesian nation. This research is focused on content design, the use of methods, and their effect on learning outcomes. The integration of batik art in learning is carried out to support the development of STEAM-based learning. This study used a quasi-experimental method using the design of One group posttest only with multiple substantive posttests, which was carried out in 2 different elementary schools in grade 6 with a sample of 41 students consisting of 28 female students and 13 male students. Experimental learning uses circular batik motifs as an art aspect and project-based learning (PjBL) as a learning method. Data collection was carried out using three instruments: a final student ability test, interviews, and questionnaires. The results show an increase in student learning outcomes, reducing students' anxiety levels in learning, increasing student activity, and providing alternative solutions for implementing fine arts in learning, especially mathematics, on the topic of circles at elementary school. This research is expected to provide benefits of knowledge related to how art or culture can be instilled simultaneously with lessons, especially mathematics learning for educators.
... MBIs with youth have shown reductions in behavioral problems, affective disturbances, stress, and suicidal ideation as well as improvements in ability to manage anger, well-being, and sense of belonging (Carsley et al., 2018;Coholic et al., 2019;Felver et al., 2016;Murray et al., 2018). Empirical studies have also demonstrated improvements in attention skills, social skills, sleep quality, and reductions in somatic and externalizing symptoms (Beauchemin et al., 2008;Biegel et al., 2009;Bootzin et al., 2005;Britton et al., 2010;Napoli et al., 2005;Zylowska et al., 2008). ...
... The practices incorporated in MBSIs include psychoeducation about emotions and mindfulness, as well as specific mindfulness exercises, including awareness of breath, mindful body scans, and awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. MBSIs are often delivered in the context of whole class instruction (general population of students) or targeted intervention (at-risk or clinical populations; Kuyken et al., 2013;Napoli et al., 2005;Raes et al., 2014). In addition, MBSIs are offered in a variety of formats (i.e., delivered by the research team or teacher, as multi-session programs or brief single-session workshops, with a variety of activities and exercises included), which previous reviews have shown to impact the effectiveness of MBSIs (Bender et al., 2018;Carsley et al., 2018;Schonert-Reichl & Roeser, 2016;Semple et al., 2017). ...
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Objectives The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the current literature on mindfulness-based school interventions (MBSIs) by evaluating evidence across specific outcomes for youth. Methods We evaluated 77 studies with a total sample of 12,358 students across five continents, assessing the quality of each study through a robust coding system for evidence-based guidelines. Coders rated each study numerically per study design as 1 + + (RCT with a very low risk of bias) to 4 (expert opinion) and across studies for the corresponding evidence letter grade, from highest quality (“A Grade”) to lowest quality (“D Grade”) evidence. Results The highest quality evidence (“A Grade”) across outcomes indicated that MBSIs increased prosocial behavior, resilience, executive function, attention, and mindfulness, and decreased anxiety, attention problems/ADHD behaviors, and conduct behaviors. The highest quality evidence for well-being was split, with some studies showing increased well-being and some showing no improvements. The highest quality evidence suggests MBSIs have a null effect on depression symptoms. Conclusions This review demonstrates the promise of incorporating mindfulness interventions in school settings for improving certain youth outcomes. We urge researchers interested in MBSIs to study their effectiveness using more rigorous designs (e.g., RCTs with active control groups, multi-method outcome assessment, and follow-up evaluation), to minimize bias and promote higher quality—not just increased quantity—evidence that can be relied upon to guide school-based practice.
... For example, Mayfield et al. (2017) underscored that structuring recess with lessons focused on playing specific games, problem-solving, and conflict resolution significantly reduced verbal conflict within an elementary school context. Research also suggests that teaching elementary school students mindfulness activities such as breathing and body scans as well as movement and sensory-motor activities can foster greater attentional skills and reduce test anxiety (Napoli et al., 2005). ...
Article
School mental health (SMH) practitioners and physical education (PE) teachers have been identified as key stakeholders in supporting the integration of social‐emotional learning (SEL) and physical activity within schools. Authors of this study developed and administered a survey measure to delineate SMH practitioners' (i.e., school psychologists, school counselors; n = 219) and PE teachers' (n = 138) perspectives of social‐emotional learning (SEL) and PA, and aligning these practices within their work. There were two forms of the measure developed, with one for each stakeholder group. The analytic procedure involved Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), descriptive statistics, and analysis of mean differences using independent sample T tests at the factor level. The SMH form brought forth three factors (linking practices, need for training, and current practices), and the PE form brought forth two factors (linking practices and need for training). Survey results suggest that both SMH practitioners and PE teachers agree that there is inherent value in youths' engagement in both SEL and PA and would like increased training to incorporate such practices within their unique roles. SMH professionals rate on average that they “neither agree nor disagree” that they integrate PA within their work. Implications are discussed for both research and practice. School mental health practitioners and physical education teachers agree that there is value in youths' engagement in both social‐emotional learning (SEL) and physical activity (PA). School mental health practitioners and physical education teachers would value increased training to support the integration of SEL and PA. Practitioners and researchers may find benefit in utilizing this measure to assess school mental health practitioners' and physical education teachers' perspectives on SEL and PA. School mental health practitioners and physical education teachers agree that there is value in youths' engagement in both social‐emotional learning (SEL) and physical activity (PA). School mental health practitioners and physical education teachers would value increased training to support the integration of SEL and PA. Practitioners and researchers may find benefit in utilizing this measure to assess school mental health practitioners' and physical education teachers' perspectives on SEL and PA.
... For comprehensive understanding of the practice readers are invited to consult manualized protocols and certified teacher training courses: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for school-aged children (Saltzman & Goldin, 2008); Attention Academy Program (Napoli et al., 2005); Integrative Body-Mind Training (Tang et al., 2012); Integrative contemplative pedagogy (Britton et al., 2014); Inner Kids (Flook et al., 2010); Soles of the Feet (Felver et al., 2014b), Paws B (Vickery & Dorjee, 2017); mindUP practices included in the social-emotional learning program (Schonert-Reichl et al., 2015). ...
Chapter
In this chapter, the authors address the development of executive functions and their enhancement by mindfulness-based training, with the implicated neurocognitive mechanisms. Specifically, the development of executive functions, related brain networks, and methods for training them are concisely discussed. Additionally, in more extended sections, the authors review empirical findings on mindfulness meditation training and its effects on cognition, the mechanisms implicated in mindfulness training, mindfulness-based interventions for children and adolescents, and mindfulness training in developmental disorders.
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The paper presents the importance, basic determinants, as well as the best world practice of one of the leading insurance companies in Europe, If P&C Insurance and technology giant Google in the field of application of innovative Mindfulness concept with the aim of improving the total performances of employees. The above examples are addressed in the argument of growing importance and broader application of the innovative concept towards the development of employee potential through the development of emotional intelligence, cognitive abilities, but also through stress reduction. The main goal is to point out to the management of companies, as well as to other authors and researchers, the importance of this concept, which gives ever more positive results in the direction of improving the overall performance of employees and, consequently, the overall performance of organizations in order to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
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