There have been studies for years that suggest that even if detention may be an effective way to remove troublesome or distracting students from a classroom, it does little to modify the students’ behavior or cut down on future infractions.
Knowing this, two schools in Baltimore – with others hot on their heels – have traded in traditional detention á la The Breakfast Club for meditation and yoga rooms with some pretty amazing results.
Students are asked to sit in silence and quiet their minds, and after a five-minute guided discussion, they’re free to practice breathing exercises, do yoga, or meditate in silence – all mental exercises that encourage mindfulness.
The idea behind the concept is that kids who have trouble focusing – or kids with stress issues, headaches, stomach problems, or other complaints related to anxiety – will be able to train themselves to calm down and de-escalate instead of reaching a place where they’re disruptive to other kids’, and their own, ability to thrive in a classroom.
The benefits of meditation are easy to see; it has been found to reduce stress, boost brain function, and alleviate pain, and the schools putting this into practice are seeing results beyond that. At Robert W. Coleman Elementary, where the practice began, they didn’t give out a single suspension last year, and nearby Patterson Park High reported fewer suspensions and an increase in attendance rates.
When sitting quietly and centering oneself is a hard enough accomplishment for adults, and mental issues like anxiety and depression run rampant in society, who knows what could come from teaching children to center themselves, breathe, and cope in a healthy way from a young age.
Certainly more than shoving them into a room and leaving them alone for an entire Saturday ever did.