The MindUP Curriculum

MindUP - 10 Mindful minutesGoldie Hawn created an early childhood education curriculum?! Yes, she did. I chanced upon it when I was flipping through her book – 10 Mindful Minutes – at the bookstore. The only reason the book caught my eye is because I have been looking into the benefits of mindfulness meditation and discovering that there surprisingly number of positives to be derived from this type of training – especially in today’s hectic lifestyles.

I confess, I raised an eyebrow when I saw that the author was Goldie Hawn. I probably wouldn’t have given it a second look if I hadn’t already been digging into the literature about the benefits of mindfulness. I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised – Hawn has really done her homework and there is quite a bit of science behind her curriculum. Is it all sound, though? Well, I haven’t dug that deep, but based on what I have seen so far, it fits in with the picture I have.

Last but not least, the part about the MindUP curriculum that really chimes with me is the focus on developing the whole child – cognitive, social, and emotional development. If we are going to prepare our children to take their place in this world, they are going to need much more than just a good academic transcript. The fact that MindUP recognises this goes towards to the credit of the curriculum.

The MindUP Curriculum

This is a curriculum that promotes children’s academic success in school and in life through social and emotional learning. It follows the premise that our children’s intellectual abilities are connected to their emotions, how they relate to others, and to the rest of their bodies. These are some of the aspects included in the curriculum:

  • learning about the brain – to help the children learn how to better control it, whether to direct their attention more appropriately or to calm themselves down. The net result is to prevent stress from shutting down executive function, the self-control of thought, action and emotion that is essential for learning.
  • meditation – training the mind to sharpen attention
  • social and emotional development – the importance of random acts of kindness and being grateful

Does MindUp Work?

Based on preliminary research, it looks promising…

Kim Schonert-Riechl, an applied developmental psychologist at the University of British Columbia and her colleagues tested the effectiveness of MindUp in 75 schools in her area. So far, the program seems to have had “incredibly positive effects,” says Adele Diamond (developmental cognitive neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia). It not only boosted kids’ self-reported feelings of happiness, liking of school, and sense of belonging, but also moderated kids’ cortisol levels, suggesting it lowered stress in the classroom. It [also] improved children’s executive function. – Scientific American

Executive function is one of the qualities that have been identified as an important factor for success (which was previously discussed under the Tools of the Mind Curriculum).

Study Source: The Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Education Program on Pre- and Early Adolescents’ Well-Being and Social and Emotional Competence – Mindfulness (2010)

  • 82% of students became more optimistic
  • 81% of students learned to make themselves happy
  • 87% were more accepting of others’ perspectives
  • 58% tried to help others more often
  • 88% felt they could use at least one thing they learned in MindUP at home or at school

More about MindUP

In a later study that is under review “Enhancing Cognitive and Social-Emotional Development Through a Simple-to-Administer School Program“:

These findings demonstrate that a relatively simple-to-administer curriculum including mindfulness training added onto the regular curriculum for a period of only 4 months can yield noteworthy positive behavioral and cognitive change. MindUP children showed significant improvements in EFs, neuroendocrinological and self-report measures of stress, and self- and peer-reported social-emotional competence. They also tended to miss fewer days of school and to show better math performance (the only subject for which grades were provided by the school) relative to controls. Particularly noteworthy is the convergence of results across multiple-levels of functioning from objective computerized measures of attention and biological measures reflecting neuroendocrine regulation to observational measures of both positive, prosocial behaviors and aggression.

The Hawn Foundation has also posted its own results demonstrating benefits across well-being, academics, social behaviour, emotion, and executive function:

  • happiness
  • inhibitory response
  • math achievement
  • social interaction
  • empathy
  • social acceptance
  • compassion
  • self-concept
  • optimism
  • planning and organisation
  • emotional control
  • feeling more relaxed

More about the MindUP Curriculum

More about Mindfulness

If you’re not really familiar with “Mindfulness Meditation”, let me introduce you to Andy Puddicombe’s TED Talk on it. Even though it sounds like a lot of fangled nonsense, it is actually grounded in science.

You can also read what we wrote about it in Mindfulness Training.

Related:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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