Researchers from the University of Cambridge recommend adding a short mindfulness training course in school curriculums to boost children's attention and concentration powers.
The study was conducted by Dominic Crehan and Dr Michelle Ellefson at the University of Cambridge and the findings were presented September 6 at the British Psychological Society's Cognitive Developmental Psychology Annual Conference at the University of Reading this year.
"Mindfulness involves paying attention in a particular way - on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally," Crehan said in a press release. "It has been shown to reduce levels of stress and depression, and to improve feelings of well-being, but to date researchers have not established a link between mindfulness and attention skills in children."
The study was conducted on thirty children aged between 10 and 11 years of age. The children were divided into two groups and each of them took part in a mindfulness course as a part of their school curriculum at different times. Each child's level of mindfulness was measured by having him/her fill out a questionnaire. They also measured their attention skills, using a computer game designed specifically for this purpose. They made these measurements on three occasions, at three month intervals, so that they could measure changes in attention skills over time as a result of the mindfulness course.
Results showed an improvement in the children's ability to focus and deal with distractions after they completed the course.
"The ability to pay attention in class is crucial for success at school. Mindfulness appears to have an effect after only a short training course, which the children thoroughly enjoyed!" Crehan concluded. "Through their training, the children actually learn to watch their minds working and learn to control their attention. These findings could be particularly important for helping children with attention difficulties such as ADHD. Further research on the effects of mindfulness on children's attention is very much needed."