Why Schools

“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.”
– William James

The Current School Environment

Aggression and bullying are an increasing problem while students’ attention spans are decreasing. Growing numbers of teachers find that their jobs are becoming more difficult.

A 2006 Senate of Canada report notes that “most of the mental health disorders affecting Canadians today begin in childhood and adolescence.” It states “there are a great many children and youth who are living with mental illness. It is conservatively estimated that as many as 15% are affected at any given time, a total of some 1.2 million young Canadians who live with anxiety, attention deficit, depression, addiction, and other disorders.”

A 2013 Toronto District School Board survey of 103,000 grade 7 – 12 students, and found a lot of stressed out teens. The stress worsens as students move into high school. 73% of high-school students are worried about their future, 57% lose sleep from worrying and 29% feel like crying. Three quarters of high-school students have difficulty concentrating.

Stress and emotional difficulties tend to begin in middle school and continue through high school. Teaching mindfulness to children before and through this difficult period will give them the tools, capacity and awareness to survive and thrive.

Why Mindfulness in Schools

Ask anyone who’s been practicing mindfulness if they wish they started earlier in life. The answer will be a resounding “Yes!”

We at Discover Mindfulness believe that teaching mindfulness in schools will have tremendous benefits for students, teachers, families and society.

Benefits for Students

  • —Increased ability to Pay Attention (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study; Black & Fernando, 2013)
  • —Improved Academic Performance (Meiklejohn et al, 2012; Schonert-Reichl et al, 2015; meta-study, Mrazek et al, 2012, Kuyken et al, 2013)
  • —Social and Emotional Learning and improved Positive Social Behaviour (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study, Schonert-Reichl, 2015)
  • Increased Classroom Engagement and Respect for Others (Black & Fernando, 2013)
  • —Improved Emotional Regulation (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study)
  • —Improved Mood and Self-Esteem (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study)
  • Reduced Anxiety, Stress, and Fatigue (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study, Kuyken et al, 2013)
  • Decreased Aggressive Behaviour (Schonert-Reichl et al, 2015)
  • Less Hyperactive Behavior, ADHD symptoms, and Inattentiveness in at-risk elementary students (Klatta et al, 2013)
  • Improved Well-Being (Kuyken et al, 2013)

See our Evidence page for study details.

Benefits for Teachers Personally

  • —Increased Sense of Well-Being (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study, Jennings et al, 2013)
  • Increased Self-Compassion (Flook et al, 2013)
  • Decreased in Anxiety and Depression (Flook et al, 2013)
  • Reduced Stress and Burnout (Roeser et al, 2013; Flook et al, 2013)
  • Increased Self-Awareness (Jennings et al, 2013)

See our Evidence page for study details.

Benefits for Teachers Professionally

  • —Increased Belief in Own Ability to Succeed (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study)
  • Improved Classroom Performance (Flook et al, 2013) and Ability to Manage Classroom Behaviour (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study)
  • Increased Compassion for Students (Jennings et al, 2013) and Improved Relationships with Students (Meiklejohn et al, 2012 meta-study, Jennings et al, 2013)
  • Improvements in Student Classroom Behaviour, including Students’ Prosocial Behaviour, On-Task Behaviour, and Academic Performance (Jennings et al, 2013)

See our Evidence page for study details.

Benefits for Families

When children and youth become more mindful, the positive impact it has on them is felt by their whole family. In some cases, schools offer mindfulness training for parents, and this has been shown to have a positive effect on both the family and the school environment.

Benefits for Society

Teaching mindfulness in schools offer the potential to introduce mindfulness to a large enough proportion of society that we will reach a tipping point in creating a social environment that increases, rather than detracts from, social and emotional well being, kindness, compassion and human development. It has the potential to change the world!

Jon Kabat-Zinn explains why mindfulness is needed in schools

Dr. Richard Davidson talks about mindfulness for teachers

Richard Davidson is the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin and one of the world’s leading experts on neuroscience and mindfulness. This video was released August 28, 2013 along with a press release on their study showing how mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout.


Free streaming of Healthy Habits of Mind shows how kindergarteners at Oxford Elementary School in Berkeley, California are introduced to mindfulness during their school day. The film features Mindful Schools Program Directors Megan Cowan and Chris McKenna, as well as leading neuroscientist Dr. Richie Davidson explaining how mindfulness affects brain function.


Click here for links to mindfulness in education organizations.

For information on mindfulness in education programs, see Programs & Resources.