Courtesy Holistic Life FoundationRobert W. Coleman Elementary, a school in Baltimore, Maryland, has a pretty unique approach to discipline. Instead of making unruly students stay after school or go to the principal’s office, teachers at Robert W. Coleman refer them to the Mindful Moment Room. The way this room looks is anything but punishing; in fact, its big purple cushions, stuffed animals, and beautiful artwork make it cozy and welcoming. In the Mindful Moment Room, students are paired with an instructor. For five minutes, the student is allowed to speak with the instructor about what happened. For 15 more minutes, the student is led through mindfulness exercises such as breathing or yoga. Doing yoga can have great health benefits for kids.
But an unruly elementary school kid wouldn’t possibly sit still and be quiet for 15 minutes of meditation in school! Right? Wrong. This method has seen very impressive results. Most of the children do cooperate for the 20 minutes they’re in the room, but the results don’t stop there. Incredibly, Robert W. Coleman Elementary has had no suspensions throughout the whole 2016-2017 school year. You read that right—over 300 students and not one suspension! Children can even request to go to the Mindful Moment Room themselves, and many do. Here are some discipline tips for parents.
The Mindful Moment Program, which is also in place at the nearby high school, was created by a Baltimore-based nonprofit called the Holistic Life Foundation. HLF also sponsors an after-school mindfulness program called Holistic Me, which helps children de-stress, offers tutoring, and even takes them on field trips to teach them about the environment. “You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence. And they do,” says Kirk Philips, the program coordinator for Robert W. Coleman. Philips even remembers a Holistic Me Christmas party, where the kids had to meditate before opening their gifts—and they did it! “It was beautiful,” he said.
Courtesy Holistic Life FoundationIf you need any more proof that the program is having an impact on the kids, HLF co-founder Andres Gonzalez remembers this adorable story. One Robert W. Coleman mother told him, “I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, ‘Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.’”
Plus: here’s a closer look at how breathing can improve mindfulness.