How to improve grades in school and reduce stress

The educational performance of children is one of the main concerns of mothers. According to two recent studies by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston (MIT), it may be useful to focus attention on the present to improve it.

This mental attitude is at the root of the Mindfulness protocols, increasingly popular because of their positive influence on stress and beyond (they are also used in psychotherapy to treat depression). To reach the above mentioned concussion, MIT researchers have monitored the situation of 100 pupils enrolled in the first year of middle school (we are talking about the first of the two studies).

Half of them were guided in the practice of focusing on the present time for 8 weeks. The remaining 50 were included in the control group. The children included in the experimental group, who were invited to perform awareness exercises based on attention to breathing, reported lower levels of stress.

The researchers who conducted the study also noted, again in the students included in the experimental group, fewer references to negative feelings (e.g. sadness and anger) as a result of sessions with the Mindfulness experts involved in the research.

The second study, details of which were published in the June issue of the journal Mind, Brain and Education, saw MIT scholars administering questionnaires to 2,000 students in grades 5 to 8 (10-14 year olds) aimed at assessing the ability to focus attention on the present (awareness), overshadowing anxieties about the past and concerns about the future. The young people involved were specifically asked how much they agreed with the phrase “Moving from one school activity to another without paying much attention to them.”

Comparing the responses with data on school grades, lesson attendance rates and number of breaks, MIT researchers noted a correspondence between positive school performance and the ability to exercise awareness of the present time.

Dr. John Gabrieli, a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, commented on the findings, stating that these studies are the first to identify a correlation between the ability to focus on the present and positive school performance. The researchers who managed them now point to broader analyses from a temporal perspective and covering the entire school year.

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