Received: 25 October 2017 Revised: 23 March 2018 Accepted: 30 March 2018
Enhancing executive function skills in preschoolers
through a mindfulness-based intervention: A
randomized, controlled pilot study
Laura Wood Andrew T. Roach Moriah A. Kearney Faith Zabek
Georgia State University
Laura Wood, Georgia State University, 30 Pryor
Street, Atlanta, GA 30303.
Executive functions (EFs) develop rapidly in preschoolers and lay an
important foundation for school readiness. One potential method
of supporting EF development is through mindfulness-based inter-
ventions (MBIs). Whereas studies with older children and adults
have supported this approach, research with young children has
been more limited. In the current study, we evaluated the effective-
ness, acceptability, and feasibility of Mini-Mind, a 12-session MBI cre-
ated specifically for preschoolers. We used a randomized controlled
design in a sample of 27 (intervention n = 12) preschoolers (3–
5 years old). The evaluation included indirect measures of EF skills
completed by teachers who were blinded to the experimental con-
dition of the students. Additionally, parents, teachers, children, and
facilitators provided feedback about the acceptability and feasibility
of the intervention. Findings revealed mostly nonsignificant, small-
to-medium effects in favor of the intervention group on indirect
measures of EF skills. Furthermore, Mini-Mind was rated as highly
feasible and acceptable by children and stakeholders. Overall, the
findings support the implementation and continued evaluation of
Mini-Mind in more diverse settings.
executive function, mindfulness, preschool
Executive functioning, sometimes referred to as “the air traffic control system of the brain,”is responsible for the focus,
organization, and regulation of cognitive processing (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2011).
Executive function (EF) skills include focusing attention, planning behaviors, inhibiting attention toward distractions,
and making decisions based on incoming information. Importantly, individuals are not born with EF skills but rather
these skills develop across the life span with the most dramatic growth occurring during the preschool years (i.e., ages
3–5; Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2011). The development of EF skills in the preschool years
is important as these skills form the foundation for school readiness and future academic achievement (Fitzpatrick,
McKinnon, Blair, & Willoughby, 2014).
2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/pits Psychol Schs. 2018;55:644–660.