So, if detention and random punishments haven’t done the trick (when it comes to keeping kids under control at school), what will? Well, the Holistic Life Foundation has an answer – meditation!
Meditation may seem like something that karate masters do or that your, “I’m totally into yoga” friend does. But, kids can meditate too. The Mindful Moment program uses meditation to regularly help kids through their school days. At the Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, children in pre-k through fifth grades are learning strategies to deal with their feelings, actions and behaviours, without punishment. Students at this school practice meditating twice a day, with the help of the program staff.
Along with practicing meditation, the kids get to put their skills to use in the “Mindful Moment Room.” Instead of sending them to detention, teachers send kids who are acting out to this safe pace. The room gives disruptive or agitated kids the chance to cool down and chill out, while meditating.
Staff members take the kids (in the Mindful Moment Room) through belly breathing and other activities that are meant to centre them. Not only do the children meditate, but the program staff also helps them to work through what’s brought them to the room. The students talk to the staff, and the staff helps them to better understand the emotions at hand. Before leaving the room, each student (with the help of a staff member) creates a plan to use the techniques they’ve learned (meditation and mindful thought) to help in the future.
Along with practicing meditation and the Mindful Moment space, these grade school children also take yoga classes. That’s right – pre-k kids are learning yoga poses. And, it’s working. Between 280 and 345 students get the chance to take yoga at least once a week.
Robert W. Coleman Elementary isn’t the only school that benefits from this awesomely innovative program. More than 4,500 students in over 14 Baltimore area schools are meditating their ways to calm, peace and serenity every week.
The effect of this program isn’t just on the kids themselves. Holistic Life Foundation co-founder Andres Gonzalez told Oprah Magazine, “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.” Imagine that – you’re kind of freaking out over your crazy day, and it’s your 6-year-old who calms you down. When a child has the ability to not only quiet herself, but to help others, magic happens!
If only every other school could get onboard with this simple strategy. Instead of punishing, yelling and reprimanding, why not centre kids and help them to help themselves? We could all use a bit of meditation, right?