Baltimore, Maryland’s Robert W. Coleman Elementary School makes headlines this week for taking a stance against traditional disciplinary practices. Instead of assigning their students detention—which generally consists of sitting and staring at walls—the school is offering students meditation instead.
Disruptive students can now partake in the Mindful Moment Room as a form of proactive discipline to alter a student’s mood, as opposed to simply being scorned or made to sit aimlessly. The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room, instead, it's filled with calming paintings and plush purple pillows for students to sit and meditate on. Misbehaving students are encouraged to sit in the room and go through meditative practices such as breathing, helping students relax, re-center and talk through what happened.
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The meditation room was created as a partnership with local non-profit the Holistic Life Foundation
, which, for more than 10 years, has been offering the after-school program Holistic Me. It invites kids from pre-K through the fifth grade to practice mindfulness exercises and yoga. Additionally, students partaking in the Holistic Me program learn about the environment, help clean up local parks, build gardens, visit nearby farms and even get to be co-teachers by helping run yoga sessions.
"It's amazing," says Kirk Phillips
in an Upworthy article, she’s the Holistic Me coordinator at Robert W. Coleman. "You wouldn't think that little kids would meditate in silence. And they do."
For example, there was a Christmas party where the kids knew they were going to get presents, but were still expected to do meditation first.
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"As a little kid, that's got to be hard to sit down and meditate when you know you're about to get a bag of gifts, and they did it! It was beautiful, we were all smiling at each other watching them," said Phillips.
The Holistic Me program is also showing tangible results for the school and the students as well. According to Phillips, Robert W. Coleman Elementary had exactly zero suspensions last year and zero so far this year as of September 2016. Meanwhile, nearby Patterson Park High School, which also uses the mindfulness programs, said suspension rates dropped and attendance increased as well.
Know other feel-good stories showcasing holistic and mindful approaches to better mental health? Share them in the comment section below.
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