A mindfulness program for children, co-developed by actor Goldie Hawn, resulted in less stress, more optimism, and improved math abilities for Grade 4 and 5 students in Coquitlam, B.C., a UBC study has found.
The MindUP program was rolled out to 99 students as part of a randomized control study conducted in 2008 and led by Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, a professor of educational psychology at UBC.
"Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgment," said Schonert-Reichl, who published her findings this January.
As part of the program, students aged between nine and 11 years old were taught social, emotional and mindfulness skills and also learned about optimism, gratitude and acts of kindness.
Mindfulness activities included mindful tasting, listening to music and "brain breaks" three times a day, during which students would pay attention to their breathing for three minutes.
"What was really fascinating was the practical significance," said Schonert-Reichl. "We know that these kinds of skills lead to success in school and in life."
The study found students who took part in the program had better math skills, improved caring and kindness to others, and less stress — measured by salival cortisol levels — compared to the control group.
Schonert-Reichl said children were taught how mindfulness could affect their brains and help regulate their mood.
One of the key factors of the program, she said, is that all of the activities were "done on a routine basis that's explicit and intentional."
According to the MindUP website, the program was developed by Goldie Hawn, within the Hawn Foundation for children's well-being and mental health, along with neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and educators.
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled Goldie Hawn mindfulness program leads to better grades, less stress, says researcher.