Sometimes, we forget that school isn’t easy. For a student it can be extremely overwhelming. Think about it. They wake up early in the morning and spend their entire day learning new concepts and ideas that they might not be in the mindset to receive—from teachers they might not get along with, surrounded by peers who may be bullies. Add to that the external factors—home life, community and fitting in with friends—affecting their mood and focus.
So, what happens in most schools? A child comes to school hungry, or tired, or just plain overwhelmed and gets in trouble during class. Is the child taught how to deal with the adverse situations that he is facing? Do we try to understand where he is coming from and what he is going through? No. He is punished – suspended or given detention.
These punitive practices are ineffective. There is no lesson being taught to the students, so they don’t learn from the punishment. Instead, they gain resentment towards the academic institution, which just leads to an even more inefficient learning environment.
This is a huge problem in our education system—but the Holistic Life Foundation, a social services nonprofit based in Baltimore, Md., has a radical solution. The Mindful Moment Room: an oasis of calm that is available during the school day. This room serves as a “cool down” room for students who are upset, or otherwise being disruptive in class. Teachers and administrators can refer students to this room, and students can also refer themselves with permission.
At the Lotus School we work with our students in mindfulness and have a short period of meditation at the start of each school day, after lunch and before going home which aids in transitions. If our students feel overwhelmed they are encouraged to take a short break in our yoga studio and breathe or meditate and talk with a teacher before returning to class.