Educators and parents across the nation are taking notice of the “mindfulness” wave rushing over academic institutions.
What is mindfulness?
Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Something as simple as noticing your breathing can be a challenging task in today’s society. The practice of mindfulness allows for an escape from the distracting, stressful, fast-moving world around us.
Mindfulness allows for a reprieve from outside trauma, an increase in social-emotional development, and improves problem-solving skills. As much as all these benefits aid adults they can also be beneficial to school-aged children.
Robert W. Coleman Elementary, in Baltimore, Maryland, saw mindfulness as a way to empower and support their students. At Coleman Elementary when students misbehave in class or the school yard, they are not sent detention or the principal’s office, they are sent to the school’s meditation room.
The meditation room is lovingly referred to as the “Mindful Moment Room.” Here students take a deep breath and are encouraged to talk about what led to their dismissal from the classroom. The staff members in the room then instruct the students to close their eyes and inhales and exhale deeply for a few moments until they are calm enough to return back to class.
Not only has meditation replaced detention, but it has also become an integral part of Robert W. Coleman Elementary school day. Each day starts and ends with a 15 minute guided mediation. And, although the implementation of mindfulness in the class room hasn’t removed hard ship or stress from children’s lives, it does provide a tool for coping with such difficulties.
Principal Carillian Thompson has noticed a “huge difference,” in his students. Including a dramatic change in suspension.
“We’ve had zero suspensions,” Thompson said.
Thompson believe that by teaching students to transform negative energy into positive energy it gives them a better opportunity to grow from their mistakes. When students at Coleman get into fights or disrupt class and are sent to the “Mindful Moment room” they are directed in breathing exercises, stretching and concentration. By isolating these students with their own thoughts and feelings they become more susceptible to change, rather than brewing about having been punished in detention.
The program coordinator for Robert W. Coleman, Kirk Philips said “you wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence,” but “they did it, and it was beautiful.”