This School Skips the Principal’s Office and Sends Children to the Mindfulness Room
Remember the doom, gloom and trembles of being sent to the Principal’s office as a child? And didn’t it seem just a little, oh…I don’t know…pointless?
For one thing, the “good kids” avoided the office like the plague and the “bad kids” would continue to act up repeatedly because they had already received maximum punishment. On two occasions, I’ve seen kids get arrested at school – once when I was a middle school student and once when I worked at a school. It looks like most public schools in the school-to-prison-pipeline have not skipped the whole pipeline thing.
We think that all the children are good and both can be rewarded instead of punished. There’s a better way, and it shouldn’t just be reserved for progressive private schools. One Maryland school with underserved children is doing just that.
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…it’s actually the reality for students at Robert W. Coleman Elementary in West Baltimore. And these unconventional methods are helping the school community: during the 2013-2014 year, there were no suspensions. The thoughtful exercises and practices are part of the Mindful Moment program of the Holistic Life Foundation, founded by Ali and Atman Smith, two brothers who grew up locally, and their friend Andres Gonzalez.
The Foundation was created in 2001, and the need for a positive outlet for kids in this particular area has been critical recently. The low-income neighborhood has struggled with high crime rates, riots following Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody, and, according to the Smith brothers, a loss of a sense of family and local mentors for the children.
The mindfulness exercises help engage the students, teachers, and staff to effectively address problems in a more beneficial way. For example, when a student is referred to the Mindful Moment Room, he goes through breathing and centering exercises with a staff member, discusses his feelings and emotions surrounding the incident, and works with the staff to figure out what mindfulness technique he could use next time a similar situation arises. As the year progresses, kids can recall their mindfulness “training” when asked, averting conflict on occasion and empowering them to take control over their actions and the emotions behind them. Visits to the Mindful Moment Room often decrease by the end of the year as well, as students become more familiar with these beneficial methods and how to effectively use them.
So it’s not simply a “meditation room” but a Mindful Moment Room with full-blown support and guidance. If your child had this at school could he or she benefit from being able to breathe, talk and relax first? This writer certainly could have benefited in the 3rd grade when she hyperventilated – twice that year – from academic pressure and getting lost at a school event. Meditation was more of a novelty or joke that the gym teacher broke out when he realized it would get our attention and calm the students down. But that was the end of that.
Inhabitots also reports that a San Francisco school using similar techniques even saw better academic success and happiness among students. This is a wonderful method for young ones to deal with stress – what I would like to see is relief from many of the academic and social burdens first (i.e., Common Core, Zero Tolerance, PC pressure, Death Education, burden to save the world from x-y-z, etc.). Similarly, serving children organic lunches – especially those they were encouraged to grow themselves would go a long way in building the resiliency they will need so much in adult life.
Visit the + Holistic Life Foundation for more info.
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