â€œMeditation calms me down and stuff.â€
â€“ 4th-grade girl, Holistic Me program
Should we replace detention with mindfulness?
Thatâ€™s the question now posed to schools all across the U.S. as a result of the work by the Holistic Life Foundation.
In 2001, brothers Ali and Atman Smith, along with friend Andres Gonzalez, returned home from college to start the foundation.Â It started as an after-school program with the purpose of bringing the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to their Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood.
But what started as a small after-school program with 20 boys from local Baltimore grade schools (mistaken in the beginning by much of the neighborhood as a gang startup) has now blossomed into a national movement.
As a result,Â itâ€™s made parents and educators everywhere question the value of traditional disciplinary measures. And, along with it, the power of mindfulness as a potential replacement.
Holistic Me brings mindfulness to Baltimoreâ€™s youth to surprising results
Founded as the HLF’s flagship program in 2002, Holistic Me is an after-school program designed to teach yoga, mindfulness, andÂ otherÂ well-being practices to Baltimoreâ€™s youth.
Since beginning at Baltimoreâ€™s Windsor Hill Elementary seventeen years ago, the program has expanded far beyond Baltimore. It now serves the surrounding Maryland communities in:
- Somerset County
- Asheville, and
Mindfulness as a replacement for detention?
Arguably the most remarkable result of the Holistic Me program has been the transformation in student behavior.
How remarkable? Since implementing the program, Robert W Coleman Elementary School hasÂ reportedÂ 0 suspensions, an incredible improvement in such a short period of time.Â
It’s been so effective that the school decided to take things further and create a â€˜Mindful Moment Roomâ€™. Students would be instructed to practice mindful breathing during the duration of their stay in the room, as opposed to traditional detention.
Since implementing the room, the school says it’s played a big part in reducing suspensions in addition to the program.Â Â
Mindfulness in the classroom (for teachers and students)
The remarkable story of student transformation through theÂ Holistic Life Foundation at Robert W Coleman Elementary School is incredible enough.
ButÂ the benefit of mindfulness in the classroom is well-documented.
Studies on mindfulness in the classroom have shown that regular practice helps improve student focus, improve emotion regulation, and reduce stress levels among other benefits.
However,Â thatâ€™s just the beginning. Studies have also shown that teachers receive similar benefits when they adopt the practice themselves. Those benefits includeÂ reduced stress, reduced chance of burnout, and greater efficacy.
Should mindfulness replace detention?
So, should mindfulness replace detention? Should schools everywhere have their own Mindful Moment Room?
Thatâ€™s a question that educators need to answer for themselves.
The topic of mindfulness at school, from questions of how itâ€™s implemented to the way itâ€™s taught, are still being debated.
But thereâ€™s no mistake that mindfulness and similar meditative practices are of huge benefit to both students and educators. And the sky is the limit for programs like Holistic Me.
â€œWhen I first started I was kinda badâ€¦ now the breathing has calmed me down.â€
â€“ 7th-grade boy, Holistic Me program