An Important Lesson in Compassion

A study conducted by the UW-Madison Center for Healthy Minds (CHM) to promote social, emotional and academic skills has found that prekindergarten students who learned their mindfulness ABCs—attention, breath and body, and caring practice—earned higher marks in academic performance measures. Known as the Kindness Curriculum, the study was designed to teach children to be more aware of themselves and considerate to others.

Participating students showed greater improvements in areas that predict future success than kids who had not taken part in the curriculum. In addition to improved academic performance, the students who went through the curriculum showed less selfish behavior over time and greater mental flexibility than the control group.

Self-regulation and awareness can influence the positive development of traits like impulse control and empathy. And being able to self-regulate in early childhood can be an indicator of better results later in life with respect to health, education level, financial stability, and coping with stress.

Ultimately, mindfulness-based practices could change how teachers teach and how students approach learning, which could help when students face emotional challenges that negatively affect their academic experience. Increasing educators’ understanding of how social, emotional, and cognitive functioning intermingle could set kids on a more positive life trajectory, and improve schools, communities, and our entire world.