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Inner Explorer


Delivery Approach:
  • Individual & Group
Delivery Format:
  • In-Person
  • Hybrid
  • Virtual
Provider Requirements:
  • No Provider Requirements
Type of Experience Addressed:
  • Other Type of Experience Addressed
    • Chronic Stress, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Engagement Methods:
  • Experiential
Level of Intervention:
  • Primary Prevention
  • Greater than 12 weeks
  • School
  • Headstart and Early Education Programs
  • Other Setting
    • Any Setting with Internet Access
Program Details:
Type of services provided:

Inner Explorer is a mindfulness-based social emotional learning (MBSEL) program, implemented in preschool through high school classrooms, after-school centers, and summer programs to reduce the biological and behavioral impacts of stress. The program uses a sequence of 5-10-minute daily audio-guided mindful attention and awareness practices to address the biological impact of stress by regulating the fight/flight response in the limbic system and improving higher order thinking in the prefrontal cortex-PFC. The practices enhance cognitive, social, and behavioral aptitude and outcomes.

Inner Explorer is an evidence-based program with several published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) showing that those who participated in the program, compared to controls, experienced 43% less stress, 60% fewer behavior problems, and had 10-15% better academic results. As well, since teachers actually practice along with students, they experienced less stress and secondary trauma and improved classroom climate. The program structure follows the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) protocol (Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School) with 40 years of rigorous research and nearly 9,000 published papers.

Inner Explorer includes four age-appropriate levels from PK-12, with 180 brief, daily practices, 5-10 minutes long, as well as additional ‘transition’ and ‘sound’ practices that are 1-4 minutes long. The program helps students learn intrapersonal skills for naming and handling difficult emotions such as anger and frustration and for managing stress and anxiety. The program is offered in English and Spanish. The core series includes content on:

  • Breathing and focusing practices help students attend to direct experiences, leading to self-awareness
  • Relaxation and sense awareness practices that reduce fight-flight response and interrupt auto-pilot reactivity, leading to improved self-management
  • Thought and emotional awareness practices that create space between stimulus and response, fostering responsible decision-making
  • Gratitude, kindness, and forgiveness practices for self and others

There is also a dedicated series for Educator Wellbeing and for School Counselors. Sample Inner Explorer Mindfulness practices for test-taking, elementary school, high school, and an adult relaxation practice can be listened to at:

Educators can access and manage the program via a digital portal using a web browser or smartphone app. The program is accessible on any internet device. It is also integrated with top Learning Management Systems (LMS) including Clever, Schoology, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams, to further simplify access for educators. Families are encouraged to join in the daily Inner Explorer practices, by opting in to the program (at no cost), which increases overall usage by 2-3x and overall impact.

Inner Explorer provides an analytics panel for school administrators so they can assess usage by classroom and family program impact on key school-based outcomes (grades/test scores, attendance, behavior, graduation rates, classroom culture, teacher turnover).

Inner Explorer has three tiers of subscription:

  • Explorer: Individual schools choose this option with a focus on mindfulness in the classroom (and for at-home learning). The classroom teachers have access and can share content with families through Tune-In or LMS tools like Clever.
  • Community: Schools and districts choose this option to use Inner Explorer in the classroom, for at-home learning, and want to provide families with full access in all age levels (with their own log-in credentials) to be used anytime, not just through Tune-In or LMS. This option includes the Inner Explorer-Home family app, as well as the new Educator Well-Being Series and Counselor Series
  • District: School districts choose this option to use Inner Explorer in schools throughout the district with all the benefits of the Community option, plus a dedicated access portal for district-wide ease of use throughout the school year and during out-of-school time, and added support from a dedicated Inner Explorer Coordinator.
Program setting:

Classrooms, afterschool programs, and summer learning programs (PreK-12) with integrated access for “at home” and asynchronous learning.

Length of program/number of sessions:

There are 180 5-10-minute audio-guided recordings for daily use per age group, which coincides with the typical school year, as well as 1-4-minute transition and sound practices. The Educator Well-Being Series and Counselor Series provide a complement of additional practices. The Summer Series provides a complete set of daily practices and corresponding suggested activities, as well as transition and sound practices.

Type(s) of trauma/concerns addressed:

Inner Explorer combines social emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness skills and is universally implemented with all students in a classroom and/or at home. The daily practices, designed to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress, help students process traumas closer to when they occur and build resilience and cognitive clarity, making it more likely they will reach out for help.

Education level of providers:

While most mindfulness programs for schools bring in outside trainers to deliver practices to students or train classroom teachers to deliver practices, Inner Explorer provides audio-recorded practices so students and teachers (and families) can listen together, so the curriculum can be delivered consistently without the need for additional prep, planning or training for staff. Classroom teachers simply log into and press ‘play’ to listen to the practices along with their students. The diverse narrators are the ‘experts’. The online teacher toolkit provides additional resources.

This design provides teachers with well-being and social emotional learning (SEL) skills through daily practices. RCTs on the program’s impact have shown reduced stress and reduced secondary trauma in teachers.

Unique/Innovative Characteristics:

Inner Explorer is the only audio-guided mindfulness program:

Formatted on MBSR and with published scientific evidence showing it improves academic outcomes.

Designed to provide families with access to the same mindfulness practice their child is listening to at school, for a shared experience and program transparency.

Designated in the CASEL Guide to Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs (2021) as an SEL- Related Approach for elementary-aged students. Childhood trauma can significantly impact SEL. SEL interventions are increasingly being integrated into trauma-informed school responses.

With diverse narrators, and in English and Spanish

Highlighted as a TOP 10 Program in the Brain Futures Policy Paper released September 2019 and with the GuideStar Gold Seal of Transparency in 2019

Currently reaching over 2 million students

Date Added/Updated:


Population Served

  • 0-5 (Early Childhood) 
  • 6-12 (Childhood) 
  • 13-17 (Adolescent) 
  • 18-25 (Young Adult) 
  • 25 and up (Adult)
Population Language:
  • English
  • Spanish
Ethnic Racial Group:
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Indigenous People – American Indian/Native American, Alaskan Native
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • White
  • Child and Non-abusive Parent/Caregiver
  • Child
  • Family
  • Grandparents
  • Parent who uses Violence
  • Survivor parent
  • Community
  • Foster/Adoptive Parents
Population Adaptation:
Age range of children served:

Pre-Kindergarten through the 12th grade

Are parent/adult caregiver(s) included in intervention?

Yes, family integration is a core component of the Inner Explorer program. Teachers press “play” and listen along with students. Families can opt-in through ‘Tune-In’ and listen to the same practice their child listens to, anytime throughout the day. This shared experience amplifies usage. It’s similar to having a workout buddy, where the teacher presses play and the entire cycle (students, teacher, family) benefits by engaging in the mindfulness practices. In addition, to Tune-In, the Community and District Editions provide login credentials and a dedicated app for families to further integrate mindfulness into the home.

Ethnic/racial and other groups served:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are important foundations of Inner Explorer’s work as 75% of its schools are Title-I eligible (in communities with high levels of poverty). To be sure that the programs and initiatives reflect the communities it serves, Inner Explorer tailors its programs to be culturally responsive and trauma-informed. Its narrators are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, gender, and geography so that students can experience a variety of different voices and understand that those differences can be explored and celebrated.

Specific cultural adaptations:

Inner Explorer is the only audio-guided mindfulness program with bilingual programming(English/Spanish) which includes narrators from 5 Spanish-speaking countries, designed to expose students to greater diversity.

Languages that service/resource is available:

English and Spanish


Goals of the program/services:
  • Increase “Readiness to Learn”- self-awareness and self-regulation
  • Improve self-management and social emotional learning skills
  • Improve responsible decision making
  • Enhance gratitude, kindness, and forgiveness towards one’s self and others, and connect students to the larger community.
  • Enhance compassion and creativity leading to equity and justice.
Evaluation Studies:
Has there been any evaluation?


Is there an evaluation currently in progress or planned?

Inner Explorer has compiled a research summary for three pilot evaluation studies (one of the studies has not been published yet). This summary includes additional data that was not included in the two published studies referenced above. Reported findings from the Inner Explorer Program Research Summary (no date) indicated that among the 958 ethnically diverse, elementary school students that received Inner Explorer:

  • Reduced behavior problems by over 60%
  • Improved GPA by 9-15.4%
  • Improved standardized test scores in reading by 13%
  • Improved grades in most subject areas including math (18-28%), science (20-23%), reading (9-18%), social studies (12-30%) and writing (9-13%)
  • Improved academic performance for Special Education students (math-11%; reading-35% and writing-19%)
  • Improved academic performance for ADHD students (math-26%)
  • Also reduced teachers’ stress by 43% and increased their mindfulness by 47%
  • Closed the achievement gap with minority students outperforming their White counterparts in multiple subject areas by 20-30%

The combined data for the three pilot studies indicated that intervention classrooms had an average of 3.8 behavior events per day at baseline and after the Inner Explorer intervention, there was an average of 1.4 events per day representing a 63% reduction in disruptive behaviors.

Key evaluation results:

In a quasi-experimental design study in two public schools, third graders (n=337) received 8 weeks of the pre-recorded Inner Explorer for 10 minutes per day. The last 2 minutes of each 10-minute practice asked students to write or draw about their experiences in a journal. Teachers were encouraged to participate in the daily practice. All intervention teachers received a 60-minute training session prior to the program launch while teachers in the control condition attended the last 30 minutes of the training for information on research measures. Study outcomes included:

  • The intervention group had significantly higher grades in reading 10.4% (+4.8 points) and science 18% (+6.6 points) at the end of the intervention
  • The mean incidents of disruptive behavior, measured by principal office referrals, fell by over 50% in the intervention group from an average of 4 incidents per day in week 1 to fewer than 2 per day in week 8; the incidents of disruptive behavior rose by over 10% for the control group showing overall behavior improved by 60%
  • There was no impact or interference on day-to-day teaching operations with 100% of students in the intervention group participating and teachers participating 99% of the time

Bakosh L.S., Snow R. M., Tobias J. M., Houlihan J. L., Barbosa-Leiker C. (2015). Maximizing mindful learning: an innovative mindful awareness intervention improves elementary school students’ quarterly grades. Mindfulness, DOI 10.1007/s12671-015-0387-6

The second study was a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) implemented in suburban classrooms in Illinois and rural classrooms in New York State. A total of 16 elementary classrooms participated in the study. Students in suburban classrooms were primarily Hispanic and students in the rural classrooms were predominantly White.

Students in the intervention group had higher grades for math and social studies and 10% higher GPA scores at the end of the 10-week intervention compared to the waitlist control group students however a consistent improvement in grades and GPA was not seen in all intervention classrooms due to significant variations in grading practices between the two schools, for instance, the school that graded on a scale of 1-100 showed significant academic impact in most subjects, whereas the school that graded on a 1-4 scale only showed significant impact on grades overall, not on individual subjects.
Bakosh L. S., Tobias Mortlock J. M., Querstret D., Morison L. (2018). Audio-guided mindfulness training in schools and its effect on academic attainment: contributing to theory and practice. Learning and Instruction, 58:34-51.

Other Publications:

Mindful Nation UK: Inner Explorer was highlighted as 1 of 3 education programs shown to be evidence-based and scalable.

Handbook on Mindfulness Programmes: Inner Explorer is highlighted in a chapter

Training & Resources

Training Language:
  • English
  • Spanish
Training Availability:
  • Yes
Training Details:
Training manuals/protocols:

There is no prep or planning for implementing the daily Inner Explorer program. There is a 5-minute orientation video to help educators and parents/caregivers understand why mindfulness is not only relevant but necessary in PK-12 education.  Additionally, the online platform has a toolkit of additional resources for educators.

Availability of Training:

Inner Explorer offers technical assistance to educators and program administrators, as well as introductory webinars and ongoing support to help deepen engagement with its daily mindfulness program.

Training Costs:

Inner Explorer can provide professional development for schools and districts that frames the daily mindfulness practices in the classroom to the larger context of overall teacher and student wellbeing.  Costs vary by length and size of training requested.

Training Contact

Program Contact

Laura Bakosh