In an article entitled, “Teaching Mindfulness to Preschoolers May Improve School Performance,” the potential for preschoolers to learn mindful tactics is explored. The author, Sarah Williams, is a freelance journalist who likes to write about medicine and biology. She has no listed credentials which make her an “authority” on these topics. Her writing seems casual, and is non-academic in its nature. However, since this was written for a non-academic audience of expecting parents, her approach is rhetorically appropriate for her audience. This article is published on the What to Expect website which is a non-scientific resource that disclaims any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and is to be used for educational purposes only. This author does not have the necessary educational background to add validity to her claims.
Summary. This article commences with the definition of mindfulness: “— the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment” (Williams, 2015). The author then compares the adult ability to master mindfulness with a young child’s. The author argues that mindfulness is a technique that can be taught to young children. Moreover, the author argues that the young children benefit from mindfulness training because a study revealed that preschoolers with mindfulness training scored higher academically and socially than did their peers who did not have mindfulness training.
The author goes on to discuss the long-term impact of mindfulness in the preschool classroom. She explains that mindfulness is evidenced in a study performed in seven preschool classrooms, at six different schools, with 30 preschoolers per classroom (Williams, 2015). This study was conducted by Lisa Flook from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The mindfulness-based curriculum is entitled “Kindness Curriculum” (Williams, 2015). This study was led by trained instructors in “Kindness Curriculum” and continued for a twelve-week period, twice a week for a half an hour (Williams, 2015).
One of the critical things about preschoolers’ ability to learn mindfulness approaches are that these approaches are difficult for impatient preschoolers. Examples of ways that adults learn mindfulness include concentrating on one’s breath for five minutes, yoga and meditation. None of these are appropriate for preschoolers, so the instructors adapted these tactics to fit the preschool mindset. One of the things that the instructors did with the kids was called “Belly Buddies”. This practice involved laying down and putting a stone on the child’s belly. Then the child would concentrate on the stone while they were breathing. The stone would move up and down. The children were told to focus their thoughts on things like the importance of other people in their lives (Williams, 2015). The curriculum focused on compassion training from mindfulness approaches.
The results of the study were interesting: Kids who had the “Kindness Curriculum” outperformed their peers who had not been exposed to the curriculum (Williams). Furthermore, compassionate behavior was exhibited by the children who had the “Kindness Curriculum.” Kids who had been exposed to the curriculum displayed behaviors such as sharing stickers with the others (Williams). The author suggests that parents implement their own mindfulness training even if their local schools do not (Williams). She suggests interesting things for children, such as glitter in a bottle that represents emotions when they get shaken up (Williams).
Reflection. The perspectives in this article are applicable in my daily work. Practicing mindfulness is something that I can practice more often. It seems that these types of activities probably help children understand their own minds and bodies in a new manner. The same is true of adults. Practicing mindfulness allows anyone, no matter what age, to reflect on life instead of just simply reacting to life. I would use this resource in my work by remembering that mindfulness is a process that requires practice. The idea that mindfulness can be taught at such an early age amazed me. It occurred to me that we have possibly been approaching education all wrong. Mindfulness is the skill that should be taught first in order to benefit all the subsequent skills. I would like to know how long the effects of the “Kindness Curriculum” lasted. It would be interesting to research the lasting effects of the twelve-week program with these preschoolers in a follow-up study. It would be valuable to know if the training helped them hone their mindfulness permanently, or if continuous training is necessary.
I will consider the perspectives of this article, however, I would want to perform additional primary research to back up the claims made by Williams. I also would like to know more about the objectives of Flook’s study. Therefore, I would research Lisa Flook and her program. The entire article is inspiring, even if it is not academically presented. The possibilities for this type of training are endless. If anything, “Kindness Curriculum” certainly should not harm the kids. Since the preschoolers in Flook’s study responded well to “Kindness Curriculum,” it would be interesting to research how children respond to the curriculum at different ages. There would be interesting results of such a study because it would be possible to determine the optimum time for intervention with the “Kindness Curriculum.”
Main point. In order to extract the most important elements of this article, I would summarize the key points in one sentence as: Preschoolers benefit in the same way as adults benefit academically and socially from practicing mindfulness; so, it is important to develop age-appropriate mindfulness techniques so that preschoolers have a foundation from which to mature their mindfulness.
- Williams, S. (2015). Teaching mindfulness to preschoolers may improve school performance. What to Expect. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/wom/toddler/0129/study–teaching-mindfulness-to-preschoolers-may-improve-school-performance.aspx