Robert W. Coleman Elementary School has been doing something different, incorporating spirituality when students act out. The school’s alternative to detention, the Mindful Moment Room, is filled with lamps, decorations, and plush pillows. Instead of punishment, misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and practice deep breathing or meditation to calm down and recenter. They are also asked to talk through what happened.
The meditation room came about through a partnership with a local nonprofit. The Holistic Life Foundation has been offering the after-school program Holistic Me for more than 10 years. Kids from pre-K through fifth grade participating in the program learn to practice mindfulness exercises and yoga.
“It’s amazing,” Kirk Philips, the Holistic Me coordinator at Robert W. Coleman told Upworthy. “You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence. And they do.”
Mindfulness isn’t just used instead of punishment. It is incorporated into the learning experience — and even into Christmas parties.
“As a little kid, that’s got to be hard to sit down and meditate when you know you’re about to get a bag of gifts, and they did it! It was beautiful, we were all smiling at each other watching them,” said Philips.
The practice of mindfulness is reportedly finding its way into the home lives of the children, as they teach their parents how to use techniques to reduce stress. Also, the program develops leadership in students by encouraging them to co-teach yoga classes, cleaning up local parks, building gardens, and visiting nearby farms.
This idea of helping young people become more spiritually centered in their daily lives outside the confines of organized religion is growing in popularity. The Mindfulness in Schools Project is reportedly teaching adults how to set up similar programs in the United Kingdom, and Mindful Schools is doing the same in the United States.