Teachers use meditation apps to rewire kids’ brains, improve focus

Brooke Waterman shuts the lights off in her classroom and the students settle in.

Calm tweet

Calm launched Calm Schools in May of 2016, giving kindergarten through 12th grade teachers around the world free access to some of the app’s meditation and mindfulness exercises. In just over two years, 54,000 teachers across 140 countries have signed up, with 41,000 from the U.S.

Competitor Headspace takes a slightly different approach. It works directly with 35 districts and around 300 schools in 15 states to offer their teachers access to the mindfulness app. One of those districts is Broward County. Headspace connected with the district earlier this year after a shooting at one of its schools, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Headspace also recently started working with the Puerto Rico Department of Education to help with stresses associated with Hurricane Maria, a deadly storm that continues to torment the island a year later. The start-up recently unveiled a pricing plan for college students of $9.99 per year, a steep discount from the typical $95.88 per year.

Calm Classroom, a nonprofit not affiliated with the Calm app, trains educators to teach mindfulness in the classroom. It studied the impact of its program at Wendell Smith Elementary, a Chicago Public School that teaches preschool through eighth grade. Its research showed practicing mindfulness led to a 69 percent decrease in students disrupting classroom instruction, a 91 percent decrease in running or excessive noise in the hallways and a 72 percent decrease in fighting, bullying and disruptive behavior.

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