The use of punishment and detentions within the school systems has long been accepted as the best way to manage poor behavior among the student body, however Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland is taking a different approach. In place of the standard detention time, educators are asking their students to sit and meditate.
While the idea may sound far-fetched, asking an unruly, stressed or upset child to sit still, the results are speaking for themselves! Upworthy reported that since the start of last year, employing this new technique, the school has not seen a single student suspended! A nearby school, Patterson Park High School, which has also employed a mindfulness program has reported that their suspension rates have dropped, and they have seen an increase in school attendance.
Instead of having a detention hall the school has a ‘Mindful Moment Room’ which was created in partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, a local charity. The school’s Holistic Me coordinator Kirk Philips stated, “It’s amazing. You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence. And they do.” In place of detention, the children are encouraged to sit in the room and practice breathing exercises or meditation. This will give them the opportunity to calm down and re-center themselves.
Experts have been analyzing the impact that mindful meditation has on the body and mind across all age groups. One study found that practicing mindful meditation allowed a person to improve upon their focus and attention span. In another study, involving a group of soldiers, it was found to create a mental armor against negative emotions and improve their memory.
The use of mindful meditation in schools has been largely successful in the U.K. through organizations like Mindfulness in Schools Project which is actively teaching adults how to set up similar programs. The organization Mindful Schools is now doing the same right here in the United States.
Not only does the implementation of these programs benefit the children at school, but it has been found that they are also taking these practices home. Andrew Gonzalez, co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation reported, “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, “Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.”’”
While it is impossible to prove that these benefits have come solely from the practice of mindful meditation, however with these results it appears to have had a positive effect on the learning environment!