Detention—whether you've experienced it directly or not, you know it's not the ideal place to spend your school day. Long hours spent staring at the clock or doing busy work were anything but motivating. However, for students at Baltimore's Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, being sent to detention is an opportunity to practice mindfulness and awareness.
Misbehaving children are sent to a purple-pillowed space called The Mindful Meditation Room, which allows them to calm down and recenter through breathing exercises and mediation before reentering the classroom. The room was created in partnership with Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. which is a non-profit organization “committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities.” Not only do children with disciplinary problems make use of the space, the meditation is a comforting treatment for those suffering from anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, and stress. The twenty-minute sessions taught by mindfulness instructors have already made an impact in the school. Since its induction into Robert W. Coleman, not one suspension has been issued.
The science and benefits behind regular mediation practice is readily known for adults…so why wouldn't it work with school-aged children? The Mindful Meditation Room already seems to be successful, according to the student testimonials on the Holistic Life Foundation website. One 5th grader speaks of using breathing exercises before a big exam: “I took deep breaths to stay calm and just finish the test. When everybody around you is making a lot of noises just trying to tune them out…and be yourself, do your breathing.” Another student has taken the exercises learned at school and has translated them for the home: “This morning I got mad at my Dad, but then I remembered to breathe and then I didn’t shout.”
The students of Robert W. Coleman are learning important lessons they will take through their whole lives. Perhaps Mindful Meditation Rooms will catch on to more elementary schools who are looking to make detention a time for students to become their better selves.
All images via Holistic Life Foundation, Inc.