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Principal replaces detention with meditation and begins seeing incredible results among students
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Maria Pangilinan
11.14.22

When children misbehave in school, it’s normal to expect that they’ll be sent to detention.

After all, detention is the traditional way of disciplining students and has been the norm for years.

Instagram Holistic Life Foundation
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Instagram Holistic Life Foundation

However, some schools are turning the idea of detention on its head.

They are doing away with detention completely and replacing it with other discipline techniques instead.

Instead of detention, schools are turning to yoga and mindfulness to help problematic students.

YouTube Holistic Life
Source:
YouTube Holistic Life

One example is Doull Elementary in Denver.

The school is using alternative discipline methods to become more attuned to its students’ social and emotional well-being.

At Doull Elementary, misbehaving students are referred to its after-school program, where they participate in yoga practice.

“What we love about yoga is that they leave with some actual skills that can help them in life. Doing a math sheet or handwriting sheet didn’t help them solve the problem, didn’t help them recognize what anger feels in the body,” Doull Principal Jo Carrigan told EducationWeek.

YouTube Holistic Life
Source:
YouTube Holistic Life

Why did Doull Elementary decide to replace detention with yoga?

Principal Carrigan was inspired by the experience of Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore.

She read about how the elementary school brought meditation to the classroom and a “mindful moment room” to the school through its partnership with the non-profit organization Holistic Life Foundation.

YouTube Holistic Life
Source:
YouTube Holistic Life

The schools and the non-profit organization saw firsthand how alternative discipline methods, such as yoga and mindfulness, helped the students.

“Instead of us picking up 10 kids from detention, we were picking up seven, then we were picking up five, and soon, we weren’t picking up any kids,” said Andres Gonzalez, the co-founder and director of marketing and communication of Holistic Life Foundation.

While there are many anecdotal stories of the positive effect of yoga and mindfulness on students’ behavior, available research is still lacking and varied to confirm these outcomes.

YouTube Holistic Life
Source:
YouTube Holistic Life

One study compared three groups of students.

The first group was managed using a behavioral approach, such as positive reinforcement.

The second group used a mindfulness-based approach.

The control group used more traditional methods, such as a warning and phone call to the parents.

YouTube Holistic Life
Source:
YouTube Holistic Life

The results showed that no group was significantly more effective than the other in managing student behavior.

This means that there is still a lack of evidence that alternative forms of discipline are more effective than traditional forms like detention.

However, there are still noticeable positive results from implementing mindfulness techniques and other similar strategies.

Instagram Holistic Life Foundation
Source:
Instagram Holistic Life Foundation

At Doull Elementary, they also use other strategies aside from yoga to help foster a positive school environment.

For example, multiple adults greet students throughout the school to help the students get ready for the day.

They also have a “mindful moment” before class starts.

These are all different techniques that aim to help students in a more positive way compared to more traditional strategies.

Instagram Holistic Life Foundation
Source:
Instagram Holistic Life Foundation

The ultimate goal of alternative techniques is to help students and their socio-emotional well-being.

For Principal Carrigan, it’s about identifying students before they misbehave and equipping them with the right tools to use the next time they are upset or feeling emotionally imbalanced.

Hopefully, more schools view Doull Elementary and Holistic Life Foundation as role models when it comes to recognizing that students can benefit from alternative forms of behavioral techniques, such as yoga and mindfulness.

Watch students practicing yoga instead of detention below.

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By Maria Pangilinan
hi@sbly.com
Maria Pangilinan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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