I (Cathy) was delighted to recently read about schools in the UK and the US that have replaced detention rooms with mediation rooms. For Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, this practice began through a partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, (a local nonprofit organization) who set up a Holistic Me after school program. The Holistic Me program was for children from pre-K through to the fifth grade. The children were taught practice mindfulness exercises and yoga as a means of managing their stress and anger. The program had such effective results that children who were acting out in class were also trained in the various practices. The results were so impressive, the detention room was eventually replaced by a meditation room complete with pillow, soft lights and gentle music.
“It’s amazing,” says Kirk Philips, the Holistic Me coordinator at Robert W. Coleman. “You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence. And they do.” Philips also reports that overall discipline in the school has improved dramatically in the school. “There have been exactly zero suspensions last year and so far this year. Nearby Patterson Park High School, also began the mindfulness programs, and reported suspension rates dropped and attendance increased as well.
Although mindfulness practices like mediation and yoga have been around for thousands of years, it has only recently become the object of educational studies and research. It will be interesting to see where the research leads us.