• Meditation is being used in the place of detention in one US school (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Meditation sessions are replacing detention classes in primary schools throughout the USA. More locally in Australia, meditation is being used in daycare to keep our kids cool, calm and focused on learning.
By
Bianca Soldani

28 Sep 2016 - 4:31 PM  UPDATED 29 Sep 2016 - 12:32 PM

Since the cane was removed from classrooms, the procedure of sending misbehaving kids to detention has remained a staple in many schools. But what if instead of twiddling their thumbs at an empty desk for an hour, students were given something more constructive to do?

Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in the US city of Baltimore has replaced detention with meditation sessions and are seeing positive results in their pupils.

Children are sent to a specially set up “mindful moment room” littered with cushions and are guided through breathing and meditation practices. The processes is deigned to relax the students and calm disruptive emotions. They are also encouraged to talk about their offending behaviour.

“Technology is great but we need to balance it with self-awareness, connection to ourselves and connection to others and meditation and mindfulness practices and yoga are tools to do this."

Meanwhile, back in Australia, meditation is something many youth have the opportunity to experience from a very early age.

Radha Babicci has been leading preschool aged children in mediation and mindfulness practices at long daycares in Sydney and as part of company Super Kids Yoga, for five years.

She believes most Australian schools and early education centres should include mind body practices to help children manage their social and emotional skills.

“Our world is very busy and becoming even busier with all this technology,” she tells SBS.

“Technology is great but we need to balance it with self-awareness, connection to ourselves and connection to others and meditation and mindfulness practices and yoga are tools to do this."

Similar to adult meditation, Ms Babicci leads her students through breathing exercises to calm the nervous system such as using a ‘balloon’ breath to swell their stomachs, stick out their tongues or breathe onto something that moves like a pinwheel. The yoga classes on the other hand, involve music and dancing.

While Ms Babicci hasn’t used these practices in a disciplinary environment, she believes it would be useful in helping children regulate their emotions.

“Detention and punishing shames children and creates negative emotions, and I don’t think that’s really addressing why they’re behaving badly,” she says.

“Depending on the meditations they do, it can build kindness and compassion, talk through things and teach them ways to regulate their emotions."

She explains that when children engage in attention-seeking behaviour it may actually be closer to connection-seeking.

“Depending on the meditations they do, it can build kindness and compassion, talk through things and teach them ways to regulate their emotions."

“As humans we want to connect with others and sometimes we don’t do it in a way that is positive and they might get into trouble doing that but then if they do meditation where they do get that connection to themselves and others that could help,” she says.

Students at Melbourne’s first Buddhist primary school Hoa Nghiem in Springvale, also engage in regular mindfulness sessions and actually start each day with a 15-minute meditation.

Bentleigh Secondary College in Melbourne’s south east established mindfulness and creative meditation on their campus three years ago.

They believe that it creates “states of relaxed awareness for optimal learning; rest and renewal for the brain; improved rapid thinking and problem solving; and improved perception and auditory processing, being able to listen acutely”, according to their website.

 

SBS contacted the VIC Department of Education and Australian Government Department of Education and Training for comment but they could not meet the request. The VIC department said the decision to implement mindfullness and meditation practices - either as part of the children's learning or in a disciplinary capacity - lies with each individual school. It is not within the jurisdiction of the VIC Department of Education.

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