MindUp is a social and emotional learning program intended to promote cognitive control, self-regulation, well-being, and prosocial behaviors in fourth- to seventh-grade students via a series of lessons in which “mindful attention” is taught and practiced in a classroom setting. It is designed to foster positive behavior and improve learning, while also increasing empathy, optimism, and compassion.
MindUp is geared toward students in fourth through seventh grade (ages 9 to 12); this period is viewed as a window of opportunity to help children optimize their health and promote their positive psychological growth.
The MindUp program focuses on mindfulness, which refers to bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis with a nonjudgmental stance. The program uses a 10- to 12-lesson curriculum, and involvement of all students in the classroom is required. It has an emphasis on taking content and extending the key components to other aspects of the curriculum and dimensions of children’s lives outside of school.
The curriculum has four key components, which include 1) quieting the mind through listening to a resonating instrument (chime) and focusing on the breath, 2) mindful attention of sensations, thoughts, and feelings, 3) managing negative emotions and negative thinking, and 4) acknowledgement of self and others. Each part of the program builds upon previous lessons and skills, moving children from focusing on subjective, sensory-based experiences (e.g., mindful smelling, mindful tasting) to cognitive experiences. In addition, lessons involve performing acts of kindness and collectively engaging in community service–learning activities aimed at changing the classroom environment to one of belonging, caring, collaboration, and understanding.
The MindUp program draws ideas for lessons from the book, Mind Power for Children – The Guide for Parents and Teachers (Kehoe and Fischer 2002). Lesson topics covered over the course of the program include introduction to mindfulness, learning about affirmations, concentrating on positive emotions and outcomes, learning how to eliminate negative thinking, acknowledging one another, understanding goal setting as a group, having a healthy body, making friends, and celebrating successes. Each lesson lasts approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
Mindfulness trainings involve a set of practices that typically include meditation exercises and bringing awareness to daily activities. These practices consist of sitting in a comfortable position, listening to a single sound, and then using breath as a focal point for being mindful in the present moment. Mindful training exercises are to be practiced three times per day (3 minutes for each practice). Affirmations and visualizations are practiced in combination with mindful practices.
The MindUp curriculum is grounded in developmental neuroscience, mindfulness awareness, social–emotional learning, and positive psychology. The program focuses on pre- and early adolescence, because research has shown that it is during this developmental stage that personalities, behaviors, and competencies begin to merge into forms that persist into adolescence and on into adulthood (Eccles and Roser 2009). During puberty, executive functions in the prefrontal cortex (cognitive control) and self-regulation experience significant growth and change, and mindfulness trainings are used to support their development.
MindUp draws on a social–emotional perspective, which suggests that children with positive social and emotional skills demonstrate resiliency when confronted with stressful situations and experience more success and positive psychological growth. The program is also guided by research on mindfulness and its relation to well-being and positive psychology (Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor 2010).
Aggressive Behaviors (Teacher Reports)
Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor (2010) found that teachers reported significant decreases in measures of aggression of MindUp students, compared with control group students.
Oppositional Behavior/Dysregulation (Teacher Reports)
Teachers reported significant decreases in measures of oppositional/dysregulated behavior of MindUp students, compared with control group students.
Social-Emotional Competence (Teacher Reports)
Teachers reported significant increases in measures of social–emotional competence of MindUp students, compared with the control group students.
Starts Fights (Peer Reports)
Schnoert-Reichl and colleagues (2015) found that students in the MindUp classrooms showed significant decreases in peer-nominations from pretest to posttest for starting fights, compared with the business as usual (BAU) classrooms.
Breaks Rules (Peer Reports)
MindUp students showed significant decreases from pretest to posttest in peer nominations for breaking rules, compared with BAU classrooms.
Empathy (Peer Reports)
Compared with students in the BAU classrooms, MindUp students showed significant increases from pretest to posttest in empathy.
Compared with students in the BAU classrooms, MindUp students showed significant increases from pretest to posttest in perspective taking.
Emotional Control (Self-Reports)
Compared with students in the BAU classrooms, MindUp students showed significant increases from pretest to posttest in emotional control.
Kind (Peer Reports)
However, the MindUp program did not have a significant impact on kindness ratings of students, compared with the BAU classrooms.
Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor (2010) used a quasi-experimental research design to evaluate the effectiveness of the MindUp program on pre- and early adolescent functioning in school on four domains: optimism, self-concept, positive affect, and social–emotional functioning.
Participants were drawn from fourth- to seventh-grade regular education classrooms in 12 public elementary schools located in a large urban school district in a western Canadian city. Of the12 teachers, six were selected to receive the MindUp program training, and six were selected to serve as wait-list controls and receive the program in the subsequent school year. There were no differences between teachers in the program and those on the wait-list controls regarding gender, years of teaching experience, or their ratings of importance for promoting their students’ social and emotional competence. To control for diffusion effects, only one classroom per school was eligible to participate in the study.
At total of 246 fourth- to seventh-grade students participated in the study. There were 139 in the MindUp program (70 boys and 69 girls) and 107 in the control group (57 boys and 50 girls). Students ranged in age from 9 to 13 years; the average age was 11. Fifty-seven percent of the participants identified English as their first language, 23 percent identified their first language as East Asian, and the remaining 20 percent identified their language as other. Teachers reported that all their students were competent in English and could participate and complete the study measures. Analyses showed no significant differences between program participants and nonparticipants on gender, first language learned, and family composition. However, students in the control classrooms were slightly older than those in the MindUp classrooms.
A questionnaire was administered to students and teachers prior to implementation of MindUp and again at the end of the school year. Questionnaires were used to assess student functioning in the four domains: optimism, school and general self-concept, positive and negative emotions, and teacher reports of social and emotional competence. Generalized linear model analysis of covariance was used to assess differences between the treatment and control classrooms.
Schnoert-Reichl and colleagues (2015) used a randomized controlled trial study design to evaluate whether the MindUp program would lead to improvements in executive functioning, stress regulation, social–emotional competence, and school achievement in fourth- and fifth-grade students. A control group of students who received a business as usual (BAU) social responsibility program was used as a comparison.
The study took place in a public school district serving approximately 35,000 students in a suburban, predominantly middle-class community near a large western Canadian city. Four elementary schools in the district (similar in size, achievement level, socioeconomic status, and racial diversity) were selected. To control for diffusion effects, only one classroom per school was eligible to participate in the study. Teachers of combined fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms were invited to participate, and of those who accepted the invitation, 50 percent had a chance of being randomized as a comparison classroom. There were no differences between teachers in the MindUp classrooms and those in BAU classrooms regarding years of teaching experience or professional development and education.
The sample included 100 students, approximately half in fourth grade and half in fifth grade. Participants’ ages ranged from 9 to 11 and had similar average family incomes. Sixty-six percent of the children reported English as their native language, 25 percent reported East Asian languages, and the remaining 10 percent indicated a range of languages. Analyses showed no significant differences between the MindUp classrooms and the BAU classrooms.
Students were evaluated across five domains: executive functioning; stress physiology via salivary cortisol; child self-reports of well-being and prosociality; peer nominations of prosociality; and year-end, teacher-reported math from school records. Analyses included reaction times to dot tasks assessments (a test used by cognitive psychologists to assess selective attention) and multilevel modeling of executive functioning as well as analyses of covariance to assess 1) student changes in regulation of stress physiology over time, 2) student self-report and peer nominations of prosociality, and 3) teacher-reported math grades.
There is no cost information available for this program.
In the study of MindUp by Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor (2010), teachers who implemented the program went through an intensive, 1-day training session and received biweekly consultation from one of the authors of the program curriculum. During the training, teachers were given a curriculum manual that specified the theory and research guiding each program lesson as well as a description of each of the 10 lessons, which included detailed scripts and accompanying materials for teaching mindfulness. Interactive discussion on the implementation of each program lesson and presentation of the material through lecture, video, readings, and role plays were all used as instructional techniques during the 1-day training. The training also included an experiential-learning exercise, where teachers participated in a series of mindful attention training exercises.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Schonert-Reichl, Kimberly A., and Molly Stewart Lawlor. 2010. "The Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Education Program on Pre- and Early Adolescents’ Well-Being and Social and Emotional Competence." Mindfulness
Schonert-Reichl, Kimberly A., Eva Oberle, Molly Stewart Lawlor, David Abbott, Kimberly Thomson, Tim F. Oberlander, and Adele Diamond. 2015. "Enhancing Cognitive and Social–Emotional Development Through a Simple-to-Administer Mindfulness-Based School Program for Elementary School Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Developmental Psychology
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Eccles, J.S., and R.W. Roeser. 2009. “Schools, Academic Motivation, and Stage-Environment Fit.” In R.M. Lerner and L. Steinberg (eds.). Handbook of Adolescent Psychology
, 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: 404–34.
Kehoe, J., and N. Fischer. 2002. Mind Power for Children: The Guide for Parents and Teachers
. Vancouver, Canada: Zoetic.
Gora, Susannah. 2010. "Golden Opportunity." Neurology Now
Schonert-Reichl, Kimberly A., and Molly Stewart Lawlor. 2010. Critical Research Summary: The MindUp Approach to Social and Emotional Learning, 2005–2011
. The MindUp Curriculum.
Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:School-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs
Designed to foster the development of five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies, in order to provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance in students, which can result in more positive social behaviors, fewer conduct problems, and less emotional distress. The practice was rated Effective in reducing students’ conduct problems and emotional stress.Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
| ||Juvenile Problem & At-Risk Behaviors - Multiple juvenile problem/at-risk behaviors|
| ||Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Internalizing behavior|