Studies have shown that global anxiety is on the rise, especially in young children and teens. To help combat this issue, the creative minds behind the ClassDojo app teamed up with schools around the world on May 10, 2019, to celebrate mindfulness.
Dubbed “The World’s Most Mindful Moment,” this program included 15 minutes of mindfulness training. Schools were also given access to a full week’s worth of follow-up lessons to continue teaching children about the importance of mindfulness in short, relaxing sessions. The overall goal of this mindfulness initiative is to help children reduce their anxiety and improve their emotional intelligence.
An Overview of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the moment, instead of allowing yourself to dwell in the past or worry about the future. The intention of mindfulness is to recognize your thoughts and feelings without judging them. According to Psychology Today, mindfulness meditation is an effective way to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, and it’s also beneficial for your overall health.
How ClassDojo Helps with Mindfulness Training
ClassDojo partnered with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma to create the six-day, in-school mindfulness program. The first day, Mindful Moment, introduced the basic concept of mindfulness via Caitlin, a cheerful host wearing a “Be Kind” shirt. Next, participants transitioned into a mindfulness exercise that included simple instructions and lots of positive feedback. The app’s kid-friendly green mascot, Mojo, led students through the training.
Since May 10 was a Friday, most students had two days off to think about what they’d learned and try to implement it into their home lives. After returning to school, 15-minute lessons on May 13–17 helped students add new skills to their mindfulness toolboxes.
Topics presented during the follow-up week included:
- Mindful Breathing
- Focused Feet
- Mindful Listening
- Body Scan
- Mindful Countdown
Students, teachers, and parents can also find bonus mindfulness lessons on ClassDojo’s website that cover mindful movements, mindful drawing, and other helpful techniques.
Children Worldwide Face High Levels of Daily Anxiety
Many adults believe that childhood is an idyllic time filled with no worries or financial obligations. However, this viewpoint doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The reality is that today’s kids and teens are often even more stressed out than their parents.
Before you start casting blame on increased technology and social media, it’s necessary to note that many experts don’t believe this is the sole cause of the modern anxiety epidemic. Smartphone technology such as the ClassDojo app can help children in need rather than hindering them.
American Kids Face Increasing Anxiety
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the diagnosis rate for children and teens with an anxiety disorder keeps increasing. For example, only 5.4 percent of all people under the age of 18 received an anxiety diagnosis in 2003. This number shot up to 8.4 percent by 2011 and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are battling the highest risk of anxiety, with more than 10 percent of them receiving treatment for anxiety every year. Of course, these statistics don’t even account for the much higher number of kids, teens, and college students who have self-reported issues with anxiety.
The New York Times published an in-depth look at the U.S. anxiety epidemic and found that 41 percent of college freshman have high anxiety. The number of suicidal teenagers has also doubled since 2007, and it’s believed that approximately 33 percent of all U.S. kids and teens have regular bouts of anxiety.
With all of this in mind, ClassDojo places emphasis on increasing empathy, reducing anxiety, and helping students, teachers, and parents communicate better with each other. As of 2016, 90 percent of all U.S. K-8 schools had adopted ClassDojo’s empathy lessons. ClassDojo has since reported that the national participation rate has risen to 95 percent.
Australian Children Tend to Be Very Anxious
Although children everywhere are susceptible to anxiety, Australians have a particularly difficult time in this regard. At least 75 percent of Aussie schoolchildren struggle with anxiety. Furthermore, 98 percent of teachers have reported visible signs of anxiousness among their students during each school day.
With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that more than 50 percent of Australian primary schools use the ClassDojo app. Thousands of schools across the nation participated in mindfulness training on May 10, with many of them continuing for the entire six-day free course.
Two-Thirds of U.K. Students Battle Childhood Anxiety
Mindfulness is catching on in the United Kingdom with 56 percent of parents practicing it with their children regularly. Parents can now use and expand on the ClassDojo mindfulness lesson that was taught globally in classrooms on May 10.
U.K. parents report that 66 percent of school-aged children deal with anxiety related to homework, school lessons, bullying, and even friendships. Teachers, who often spend more time interacting with kids than their parents, believe that most of their pupils face these issues. Either way, 30 percent of British parents have begun placing a more significant emphasis on helping their kids manage anxiety than on worrying about academic success.
Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma
One of ClassDojo’s partners, the U.K. charity group Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma, utilized The World’s Most Mindful Moment as a way to raise awareness of childhood mental health issues. Founder Johny Benjamin also spearheaded a simultaneous charity fundraising effort to assist the organization in its efforts.
Success Rate of Childhood Mindfulness
ClassDojo put a lot of time and effort into creating a mindfulness program that would genuinely help children. As part of this background work, the organization interviewed 2,500 teachers who had already incorporated mindfulness into the classroom.
When asked to rate the success of classroom mindfulness techniques, 70 percent of teachers stated that they help students feel calmer. The interviews also revealed that 50 percent of educators had seen evidence that mindfulness decreases anxiety and makes students happier overall.
An analysis of the success of ClassDojo’s specific mindfulness training won’t be available right away, but it is worth noting that more than 600,000 British primary school students were able to put the discipline to work during SAT week immediately. The results of the SATs, along with self-reported feelings of student anxiety, will be a handy tool for measuring how helpful beginner mindfulness was for students with test anxiety.
What Previous Studies Show
Despite the claims of some click-bait headlines, there have been scientifically conducted studies that have proven the link between childhood mindfulness and improved mental health. For example, one study found that students who participated in mindfulness education exhibited more optimism, increased cognitive abilities, and better social behavior.
It’s due in part to these groundbreaking studies that today’s students can receive free access to mindfulness training, empathy training, and training for many more emotional intelligence skills via ClassDojo.
Student Enjoyment of Mindfulness
According to Twitter and the #MindfulMoment2019 hashtag, students appear to have connected with the mindfulness training they received on May 10. There are several photos on Twitter showing students participating in the first session, and most of them appear to be highly engaged with the process.
ClassDojo’s diverse emotional intelligence training videos have been shown inside classrooms in 180 countries. Since 2017, 15 million children have tuned in to the app’s earlier mindfulness education tools, making it very likely that the new videos will also be a huge success. With engagement numbers like these, it’s no wonder that Forbes named ClassDojo one of America’s Most Promising Companies in 2013.
Teacher Feedback on Mindfulness in the Classroom
NBC2 News quoted Delaware first grade teacher Cindy Price’s praise for Mindful Moment 2019. Price and her students were among the first in the world to get a look at the new course’s materials.
“My role is as much focused on mental well-being as it is on learning. Helping my students develop the skills they’ll need to reduce anxiety, care about the feelings of others, and be self-aware are all traits I know will benefit them for the rest of their lives,” Price said. “I’ve wanted to teach mindfulness for a long time, but I haven’t been able to find something that my students will love and easily understand. ClassDojo’s mindfulness lessons are exactly what I’ve wanted. We’ve had a sneak peek, and my children love it! I have a feeling we’ll be using these activities for months to come.”
Strong History of Mindfulness Education
The World’s Most Mindful Moment was intended to give kids worldwide a proper introduction to mindfulness with the help of Mojo. However, this wasn’t the first time that ClassDojo and Mojo helped students learn about the benefits of becoming more mindful.
In 2017, classrooms were given access to the app’s first mindfulness videos. Guides were also released for use in the classroom and at home. Early adopters of this program were greeted by a character known as The Beast. Rather than being a scary entity, The Beast was used to represent the emotions of each student.
Per USA Today, children were taught how to “embrace the beast” constructively. This included using yoga-like poses and mindful breathing to release their motions. By using these techniques, students gained valuable knowledge about emotional regulation and how to properly diffuse their negative feelings.
ClassDojo representative Chris Frank told USA Today that mindfulness is “an idea that’s starting to pick up steam. We knew that [it] was something our teachers would be interested in… It seems like it could produce a lot of impact for not much effort.”
Mindfulness Lessons Reduce Behavioral Issues
Beacon Elementary in Harper Woods, Michigan, has been using ClassDojo’s 2017 mindfulness videos in the campus focus room. This is a quiet area of the school where students who are misbehaving or having difficulty with emotional regulation can take a break to get back on track.
The first quarter of the 2018–2019 school year helped highlight the positive potential of mindfulness education. A total of 238 students in first grade were sent to this quiet space, and many of them used ClassDojo’s tools to relax. Meanwhile, the second graders who had been introduced to mindfulness during first grade had a significant decline in behavioral issues. Only 83 second grade students required a session in the focus room.
Mindfulness as a Way to Level the Playing Field
ClassDojo CEO and co-founder Sam Chaudhary told Xconomy that he believes that technology like the ClassDojo app can give students in all school systems and income brackets an equal opportunity to learn.
“Equity is very important,” Chaudhary said. “Some kids get an amazing educational experience, and some kids don’t have access to anything. That’s unfair because kids don’t choose the circumstances they’re born into. We hope to use technology as a power for good and make it accessible and easily consumable.”
Chaudhary also lauded Beacon Elementary’s approach by calling it “a pathway to building empathetic, inclusive school culture.” Research has proven that having an early school culture that prizes empathy can reduce bullying and improve a child’s odds of having healthy relationships and a successful career in the future.
Denmark, for instance, has been focusing on empathy training in the classroom for decades, and the results have been very positive. Denmark is consistently rated as having the highest levels of happiness in the world.
ClassDojo’s Class Time and School Time
One of the many other reasons that ClassDojo has become so popular with educators is that it gives them the ability to connect with parents via Class Time instantly. Newsletters and other old-fashioned devices are no longer necessary when teachers can send parents photos, videos, and notes about their children via the ClassDojo app.
School Time offers similar functionality, but it’s geared toward keeping parents and administrators connected. This makes it simple to share calendar events and other matters that affect the entire school with every parent at once.
Students who have participated in the mindfulness training, along with any other aspects of the ClassDojo experience, are given the opportunity to share their best work via their own portfolio. For example, a child who becomes engaged by mindful drawing may choose to share their artwork by adding it to their ClassDojo digital portfolio.
Teachers and parents can access every item that students place into their portfolios via the ClassDojo app. Parents associated with a classroom will only be able to see the details inside of their own child’s portfolio.
ClassDojo’s mission statement provides an excellent example of what the company’s creators have had in mind since the beginning: “to bring communities together and give them the tools, ideas, and energy to improve education for all kids.”
This vision has turned ClassDojo into a global, award-winning success. Back in 2011, NBC’s “Today Show” selected the app as the Education Innovation Award recipient. This helped the startup company evolve from concept to finished product thanks to the $75,000 prize that accompanied the award.
Several other awards followed, including Tech Crunch’s 2015 Crunchie Award for Best Education Startup and Fast Company’s 2016 Innovation by Design Award.
Co-founded by former teacher Chaudhary, the app initially enabled teachers to instantly record student behavioral issues via the smartphone and web-based platform. The idea was to provide instant feedback, but not for disciplinarian purposes. Instead, the app’s primary focus was helping develop each student’s character.
According to Tech Crunch, ClassDojo was valued at $99 million in 2015. Since that time, the company has raised more than $65 million and has seen its value rise dramatically to $400 million. The fast growth of the app is indicative of how helpful it’s been in classrooms and homes worldwide.
Moving Forward with Mindfulness
Parents who want to learn more about mindfulness can visit ClassDojo’s website. Much like any other skill, mindfulness is something that requires a lot of practice, but the rewards are well worth the time investment. Families are encouraged to set aside at least 10 minutes each day to practice being mindful together. This will help build on the lessons that children are learning in school, and it can also make the entire family less anxious and more functional.
Download the ClassDojo App – https://www.amazon.com/ClassDojo/dp/B01AIM0EGO