An exploration of a mindfulness intervention with 7 and 8-year-old children

  • Sarah Goalen

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Mindfulness has been defined as having three core aspects: active attention which leads to awareness, a regard for the present rather than the future or the past and an approach that is non-judgemental and accepting (Hooker and Fodor, 2008). Mindfulness has been used to treat adults and children in a clinical setting with presenting issues such as anxiety and difficulties related to poor self-regulation. The current research aimed to explore the effect of mindfulness on self-regulation and the feasibility of using mindfulness in a mainstream primary setting as a preventative, universal measure.The research used an exploratory, mixed methods design and included a comparison group. The intervention was developed collaboratively by the researcher and class teacher and included mindfulness activities taken from Mindfulness for Schools (Cattley and Lavelle, 2009). The children in the intervention group took part in a mindfulness activity 3-4 times a week for 8 weeks, in 10 - 15 minute sessions, straight after lunch.The qualitative data was obtained using semi-structured interviews and researcher observations. The semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis, provided information on the pupils' and teacher's perceptions of the intervention. Meanwhile, the researcher observations triangulated data on participant engagement as well as providing information on the fidelity of the intervention and formative feedback for the teacher. Observations and semi-structured interviews were also completed with the comparison class to establish the comparability of the two classes. Quantitative data was gathered using a self-regulation measure developed from questionnaires cited in Bandy and Moore (2010). The questionnaire was administered to both classes before and after the 8 week intervention to explore changes in self-regulation within and between groups. The data is reported using descriptive statistics and inferential parametric statistics.Both teacher and pupil interviews highlighted increased feelings of calm and levels of attention immediately following mindfulness activities. Data from the pupil interview suggested that the children involved in the intervention enjoyed many of the activities and were able to suggest times when they might find mindfulness activities useful. Information gathered from the interviews with the class teacher suggested that the development and delivery of mindfulness activities was appropriate and feasible in a mainstream, primary setting. While changes on the self-regulation scale could be considered positive, in that there was an overall decrease in mean scores in the intervention group, the decrease was not significant and so likely to be due to chance. In summary, the qualitative data indicated that mindfulness activities had a small but positive impact on the emotional, behavioural and cognitive awareness in a group of year 3 children in a mainstream primary setting. However, adapting mindfulness activities to make delivery feasible for a teacher in a mainstream primary setting may reduce the effectiveness of the intervention. Recommendations for EPs and future research are discussed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCaroline Bond (Supervisor) & Garry Squires (Supervisor)


  • young children
  • mindfulness
  • classroom intervention

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