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Elementary student and teacher perceptions of a mindfulness and yoga-based program in school: A qualitative evaluation

Diana Reindl, Ashley Hamm, Rhiannon Lewis, Lauren Gellar


Research question
What are the qualitative insights and perspectives about the implementation of a mindfulness and yoga-based program from elementary youth and teachers?
A mindfulness and yoga-based curriculum was implemented in 15 schools. The curriculum was taught to students during a physical education or dance class by instructors who were within each school and received training on the curriculum.
Sample selection
Volunteer focus group elementary students who participated for one year and teachers who did not implement the program were qualitatively interviewed, by three trained University researchers.
Data collection
Nine focus groups were completed within three different elementary schools. Six focus groups were completed with 3rd and 5th grade students. Three focus groups were conducted with teachers within each school which received the program, excluding instructors.
Focus group data were coded and a thematic analysis was completed among the 40 students and 23 teachers.
Interpretation and main results
Teachers had varying degrees of involvement with the program and communication emerged as a critical theme for buy-in as communication represents the underpinnings of creating and retaining stakeholders. Most students talked about perceived improvements in focus, emotional regulation, flexibility, breathing, and school work. A common theme to describe benefits of the program emerged with the idea of “increased focus”. Conceptually, it may be that increasing mindfulness increases “focus” thus increasing positive outcomes. More research is needed to understand if “focus” may serve as a mediating variable on emotional regulation, cognitive improvements, and other health outcomes.
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