The benefits of teaching children meditation
Already being practiced in a San Francisco middle and high school, quiet time is a strategy to reduce stress amongst the students. There are personal benefits to the individual children in teaching them resilience and stress management, however, there are also societal benefits. In areas where there are problems with youth, crime meditation could be the answer to keeping our young people on the straight and narrow.
For those schools that are participating in quiet time, they are also seeing vast improvements in academic achievement. In fact, on the California Achievement Test, the quiet time schools had students that were twice as proficient in English and even more in maths. So regardless of whether your children’s school is a participating school, now is the time to teach your children the practice of meditation.
Meditation for our future
At first glance, Quiet Time – a stress reduction meditation strategy used in several San Francisco middle and high schools, – looks like something out of the om-chanting 1960s. Twice daily, a gong sounds in the classroom and rowdy adolescents, who normally can’t sit still for 10 seconds, shut their eyes and try to clear their minds.
The practice of meditation in schools deserves serious attention from parents and policy-makers. An impressive array of studies shows that integrating meditation into a school’s daily routine can markedly improve the lives of students. If San Francisco schools Superin-tendent Richard Carranza has his way, Quiet Time could well spread citywide.
Cleansing Troubled Minds
What’s happening at Visitacion Valley Middle School, which in 2007 became the first pub-lic school nationwide to adopt the program, shows why the superintendent is so enthusias-tic. In this neighborhood, gunfire is as common as birdsong – nine shootings have been recorded in the past month – and most students know someone who’s been shot or did the shooting. Murders are so frequent that the school employs a full-time grief counselor.
In years past, these students were largely out of control, frequently fighting in the corridors, scrawling graffiti on the walls and cursing their teachers. Absenteeism rates were among the city’s highest and so were suspensions. Worn-down teachers routinely called in sick.
Unsurprisingly, academics suffered. The school tried everything, from counseling and peer support to after-school tutoring and sports, but to disappointingly little effect.
4 Ways Start Kids Meditating
Now these students are doing light-years better. In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly.
About 20 percent of graduates are admitted to Lowell High School – before Quiet Time, getting any students into this elite high school was a rarity. Remarkably, in the annual Cali-fornia Healthy Kids Survey, these middle school youngsters recorded the highest happi-ness levels in San Francisco.
Reports are similarly positive in the three other schools that have adopted Quiet Time. At Burton High School, for instance, students in the program report significantly less stress and depression, and greater self-esteem, than nonparticipants. With stress levels down, achievement has markedly improved, particularly among students who have been doing worst academically. Grades rose dramatically, compared with those who weren’t in the program.