Sending a misbehaving child to detention has become the standard punishment in almost every single school in America. It’s like the Little League version of prison solitary confinement—you force a child to sit in a room for a set period of time without talking or doing anything other than their homework.
Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore is taking a different approach and has abolished the dreaded punishment in favor of mindful meditation. The school’s detention room is now a “Mindful Moment Room.” An oasis of calm filled with plush pillows where children can relax and focus on their breathing to become mindful and calm.
Mindful meditation has been around for thousands of years. Recent research has shown that mindfulness can help you build “mental toughness” against disruptive emotions: making it a valuable tool for soldiers readying for war. Daily mindfulness exercises can also improve your memory and ability to focus.
Robert W. Coleman Elementary partnered with the Holistic Life Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that’s offers after-school yoga and meditation programs to kids from pre-K to 5th grade, to create the Mindful Moment Room.
The nonprofit encourages children to talk about their experiences with mindfulness and a lot of kids have said that they now focus on their breathing to stay calm and walk away from confrontation. Some use the techniques they learned to tackle anxiety and focus during exams.
The Holistic Life Foundation’s testimonial page is filled with quotes from kids who have benefited from the new mediation program. One 5th grader said, “Sometimes when I get mad I just breathe deep…I think of being a bigger person and doing…something that a stronger, a mentally stronger person would do.”
The program hasn’t only been a success on an individual level. Schools that teach kids mindful meditation are reporting tangible benefits: Since its implementation two years ago, Robert W. Coleman Elementary hasn’t given out a single suspension. Patterson Park High, another Baltimore school that with a meditation program, also reported fewer suspensions and an increase in student attendance rates.
Are these results wholly because of mindful meditation? It’s hard to say, but the numbers are pretty compelling, and it’s about time schools came up with a better alternative for detention.