Mindfulness Meditation In Schools
In place of detentions and suspensions to improve student behaviour, schools across the world are turning to ‘mindfulness meditation’, as a tool to improve the wellbeing of students and enhance academic performance.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of quietening the mind to bring awareness and attention to the present moment and schools are seeing it as an alternative to the "zero tolerance" discipline practices that usually result in suspension of students and keeping them out of the classroom.
This move to mindfulness meditation is seen as a way to improve behaviour and concentration, while keeping children in the classroom.
Mindfulness training was incorporated into workplaces around the world, including government organisations, companies, hospitals and prisons. Research has overwhelmingly highlighted the many benefits of the practice in adult populations, including enhanced performance, improved emotional management and reduced workplace stress.
These favourable results led educators to consider the potential value of mindfulness meditation in schools as a means to help students with the distractions they face and the rising incidence of anxiety and depression.
Schools in the United States are turning to Mindfulness as a means to address the social and emotional factors that prevent kids from being able to sit quietly to write or perform well.
Students at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in West Baltimore often go to a "Mindful Moment Room" instead of the principal's office when they act out in class. The school's "soothing spaces," complete with beanbag chairs and salt lamps, were featured in Oprah magazine.
Coleman Elementary is partnering with the local non-profit Holistic Life Foundation to teach its students "mindfulness." The goal is to give kids tools for coping with trauma, anger and stress. The school incorporates breathing exercises into morning announcements and yoga into its after-school program, according to the Oprah article.
Minnesota teachers are have used the ‘Mindfulness in Schools Project’, with a focus on managing classroom distractions, CBS reported.
A Wayzata West Middle School math teacher has all of his students take a "timeout" at the beginning and end of his class, the news station reported. He asks all students to close their eyes and sit quietly for a couple minutes.
Syracuse schools also have "behavioural intervention centers," rooms where students can go for emotional support.
‘The Mindfulness in Schools Project’, based in the United Kingdom, is one of many initiatives bringing mindfulness meditation into classrooms around the world.
It provides two main courses designed specifically by teachers for use in the classroom: ".b" – pronounced "dot-be" (Stop, Breathe and Be) – aimed at older children, and "Paws-be" geared towards 7- to 11-year-olds. It is now taught in more than 20 countries and it held teacher training in Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Finland, Thailand, the Netherlands and Australia. That is just one of many mindfulness programs currently in operation.
In the United States, for example, the MindUP initiative, which incorporates "brain breaks" several times a day, has been operating for 12 years. Another program, known as Quiet Time has been credited with improving school attendance and halving suspensions in a troubled school in San Francisco. ‘Wake Up Schools’ is another initiative, with centres in France and the United States, which has also provided mindfulness training in India.
In Australia, schools have also used mindful meditation programs and one of the most popular is the organisation, ‘Smiling Mind’ which developed ‘The Smiling Mind App’ that has reached over 1.5 million people worldwide and more than 18,000 educators use their programs in schools. They also provided additional intensive professional development to up-skill more than 4,000 teachers so that they can bring mindfulness into their classrooms.
Funding from the Victorian Government has enabled the program's evaluation to take place in numerous government schools.
How difficult would it be for Barbados schools to look at this method of reaching children and keeping them in the classroom. I am sure that we are all aware of a number of Yoga practiontioners on the island as well as persons who specialise in meditation.
It therefore calls for an effort to partner with some one, who can also look at the apps being used around the world and try it out in our schools.