The growth of mindfulness programs for children and young people

Mindfulness in schools is not totally new. Some “alternative” schools such as Montessori and Steiner have routinely included a focus on mindfulness in the sense of concentrated attention to sensory experience (Lillard 2011), and there have been sporadic attempts to interest those in education in mindfulness for at least two decades (e.g., Langer 1993). Now mindfulness is developing fairly rapidly in mainstream schools, although it is far from being widespread.

Mindfulness programs by definition share a focus on the core intention of developing the ability to pay bare attention and to being present with experience with open-minded curiosity. Beyond that they range widely in aims and scope; those with the most sound evidence base will be outlined as illustrations in this chapter. The bulk of school-based programs come from the US, but work is developing elsewhere, including in Europe, Australasia, and in the East—where mindfulness could be said to have originated and have its natural roots.

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