Research into the effectiveness of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) in school settings has grown substantially. However, studies in the field are still scarce, present methodological limitations, and fail to examine how children’s characteristics influence MBPs’ effects. The twofold aim of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of an MBP on children’s attention and emotional regulation, writing performance, and school grades, and to evaluate the moderating role of baseline scores, age, gender, and socioeconomic status.
Fifty-seven third graders received the MBP (n = 28) or a health-based program (n = 29), which is the active control group, for 8 weeks. In each week, both programs were composed of two 30-min sessions delivered by psychologists and three 5-min sessions delivered by teachers. Before and after the implementation of the programs, we assessed teacher-rated children’s attention and emotional regulation, performance-based attention networks (alerting, orienting, and conflict monitoring), writing performance (handwriting fluency, spelling, and text quality), and school grades in Portuguese, Mathematics, and Social Studies.
Compared to the control group, after the program, the mindfulness group displayed higher teacher-rated attention and emotional regulation, as well as better Portuguese, Mathematics, and Social Studies grades. Emotional regulation and alerting baseline scores as well as age were found to moderate the MBP’s effects.
These findings provide preliminary evidence on the effectiveness of a MBP on children’s behavior and school grades. This means that students may benefit from the integration of mindfulness practices into the educational setting as a complement to the school curriculum.