If you subscribe to the belief that there’s “nothing new under the sun” then this just might surprise you – some schools are setting a new trend by replacing detention with meditation, and the results are surprising, indeed!
From Detention to Meditation, a Paradigm Shift
For many of us parents-of-a-certain-age, detention was boring, quiet, and totally pointless, entirely by design. Students were not encouraged to talk through, or even think through, the behaviors that led to their detention. Detention was intended to be a punishment, lost time that kids would rather be spending anywhere else! But schools like Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, have replaced detention with a more purposeful Mindful Moment Room instead. The Mindful Moment Room is described as being full of comfortable, purple pillows, lamps, and plenty of room for children to think about, process, and even talk through their disruptive behaviors. Kids are given an opportunity to practice breathing exercises and other meditative strategies to calm themselves and replace their disruptive behaviors with more appropriate actions.
Meditation and the Notion of Toxic Stress
Several non-profit organizations, such as Mindful Schools, offer training and courses designed to help educators bring mindfulness into their K-12 classrooms. These courses teach meditation as a strategy for helping students develop appropriate coping mechanisms for handling stress. The organization’s web site explains that students are often faced with “toxic stress” which is when “life’s demands consistently outpace the student’s ability to cope with those demands.” The site goes on to suggest that this toxic stress “impairs attention, emotion and mood regulation, sleep, and learning readiness daily in American classrooms. Even more troubling, prolonged exposure to childhood toxic stress has lifelong impacts on mental and physical health.”
Benefits of Meditation, Beyond the School
Although meditation has been around for thousands of years, it is gaining momentum as a way to help sharpen both body and mind, with some studies even suggesting that it helps improve attention span and focus. Programs like the Mindful Moment Room at Coleman Elementary are also reporting that students are taking this new mindfulness, and meditation strategies, home and sharing them with family members. In addition, Coleman and other nearby schools adopting similar meditation programs have reported decreases in school suspensions and increases in student attendance at school. It seems clear that the students who are learning to practice these meditative skills are seeing many benefits, at school and beyond.
Targeted study skills programs like the Learning Built to Last series from Club Z! can also help students learn how to develop time management, organization, and other stress-busting skills. For more meditation resources for you and your students, check out these guided practices for mindfulness on Mindful.org.