Getting Your School Started with Mindfulness

Schools have several options for starting a mindfulness program:
  • Hire an Expert: If funding allows, a school can hire an individual or company to design and set up a program. Obviously, this is the easiest but most costly option.
  • Train One or More of Your Teachers: Another option is to formally train one or more of your teachers and have them design and implement the program as part of their regular work or as an additional project.
  • Teacher with Experience: If you happen to have a teacher with existing experience practicing or teaching mindfulness, then this person could develop and implement the program.
  • Find Parent Volunteers: Given the popularity of mindfulness, you may have parents interested in volunteering to spearhead and/or assist with designing a mindfulness program. Many parents are highly motivated to have their child learn a life skill like mindfulness.
Unless you are hiring an expert to design and deliver the entire curriculum, each school must individualize existing school-based mindfulness programs to fit their unique school context: student characteristics, teacher personalities, daily schedule, and community culture. This website is designed to help schools do this easily and affordably.

School-Based Mindfulness Programs

There are numerous school-based mindfulness programs available for purchase. Some of the leaders in this area include:

Developed by the (Goldie) Hawn Foundation, MindUP is the most readily available school-based curricula and one of the first. The program integrates positive psychology (science of happiness), neuroscience, mindfulness, and socio-emotional learning and is designed for K-8 classrooms. This is the most cost-effective option for schools that have teachers and/or parents wanting to design their program. The curriculum for MindUP is listed below.
Mindful Schools was one of the first organizations to provide formal training in running school-based mindfulness programs for educational professionals. They offer online training, including a teacher certificate program. Their K-12 curriculum is available through the trainings.
Calm classroom also offers online training for teachers as well as on-site training for creating a school-based mindfulness program. provides in-person training in K-12 mindfulness programs, including a mindfulness program specifically designed to improve math performance.

The MindUP Curriculum: Created by the Goldie Hawn Foundation

Designing Your Curriculum

Whether you pursue formal training or not, typically all schools will need to adapt any curriculum to their unique school context. Factors impacting what will work in your school include:
  • Time available for lessons: length of session and frequency
  • Whether the homeroom teacher will give the lessons or a specialist
  • Budget to pay for supplies, such as chimes, food for eating meditation, pebbles, glitter jars, puppets, etc.
  • School culture and climate, including general attitude towards mindfulness, as well as the personalities of teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

I created my mindfulness program as a parent volunteer at my children's school using a combination of the following:
  • The MindUP curriculum
  • The Still Quiet Place curriculum
  • Mindfulness Activity Cards
  • 4 Pebble Meditation

My primary tools are:
  • A chime; each classroom gets one
  • Bob, a lizard puppet to demonstrate how the "lizard brain" works
  • Glitter jar, recipe at the end of the Moody Cow book
MindUP: K-2 Elementary
Developed by the Goldie Hawn Foundation, MindUP is one of the top mindfulness in school programs. The program is highly adaptable, enabling teachers to link to other elements of the curriculum. Core Practice is highly effective and easy to integrate across the school. The K-2 version introduces younger children to brain basics, mindfulness, and positive psychology concepts. Available on Amazon: The MindUP Curriculum: Grades PreK–2: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning—and Living
MindUP: 3-5 Elementary
The 3-5 version introduces children to parallel lessons to the K-2 version but provides more depth and explanation. My experience is that children in this age range quickly develop a firm grasp of the concepts and make impressive changes to their behavior with this information. Available on Amazon: The MindUP Curriculum: Grades 3-5: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning—and Living
MindUP: 6-8 Middle School
The middle school version of the MindUp program uses the same structure as the elementary versions (so they can easily be used in K-8 contexts) but adds more science and reflective discussion. This is a critical age for students to learn to regulate their emotions and reflect on their choices. Available on Amazon: The MindUP Curriculum: Grades 6–8: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning—and Living
Mindfulness Activity Cards
These are my favorite curriculum development tool ever. Over 50 cool, well-organized cards that provide detailed instructions for specific mindfulness and related in-class activities. These cards make it fun and easy to develop a custom-designed curriculum for your school. Available on Amazon: Mindful Games Activity Cards: 55 Fun Ways to Share Mindfulness with Kids and Teens
Meditation Chime
The chime is ideal for in-class mindfulness practice. With younger children, they will focus on the sound of the chime until it fades away; so, it is important that it rings for 30-60 seconds. For older kids, they can use the chime before doing homework or before after-school activities that require focus (e.g., before a competition). Chime can be purchased on Amazon: Woodstock Solo Silver Zenergy Chime- Eastern Energies Collection
A Still Quiet Place: K-12
Designed for general group settings rather than the classroom specifically, this curriculum has outstanding ideas and resources for teaching mindfulness in K-12. The exercises for adolescent reflection are excellent. Available on Amazon: A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions
4 Pebble Meditation
This book by Thich Nhat Hahn is a classic meditation for children. I use it to close each set of lessons. The students love going home with their four pebbles (flat glass beads), which I put in a small gold favor bag. Available on Amazon: A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles
Moody Cow Meditates
This is a great book to read in class to younger students, and also has the recipe for the "mindfulness jar," a jar with glitter than can be shaken up to teach about what stress does to the mind and then used to quiet the mind as the students watch the glitter sink to bottom of the jar. You can purchase on Amazon: Moody Cow Meditates

Mindfulness for Teachers
This book provides teachers with an outstanding introduction to mindfulness with practical ideas for in-class implementation. Available on Amazon: Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom (The Norton Series on the Social Neuroscience of Education)
Bob is the mindfulness mascot I use to personify the "lizard brain" when teaching mindfulness in an elementary school setting. We use him to demonstrate what it looks like when a person does not have his/her "smart part" on. Typically, we have Bob try the mindfulness exercise and fail to focus. Then, we have the kids try it. It makes the lessons fun and create a clear, relatable visual for the children to better understand the concepts we are teaching. You will see him featured in several of the in-class lessons.

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