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Students learn to cope with stress and become disciplined through mindfulness programs in schools.
In January 2010, parent Fiona Jensen initiated a mindfulness program called Calmer Choice at Barnstable High School to help her daughter survive the adolescent crisis. The program teaches students mindful breathing, meditation, and other stress-reduction techniques.
Calmer Choice, which started with 65 students, reached a non-profit status five months after its launch. As a result, the program expanded from 800 in 2011 to 1,500 in 2012. Recent data show that over 15,000 students have joined the program, which is also being implemented in other local schools.
According to Jensen, the program’s primary objective is to train students on how to become more resilient. Through the program, they get to learn about how stress affects their brains and how they can defuse stress internally.
As a result of practicing mindfulness, some students say they fall asleep easily at night and, instead of being reactive when frustrated, they just sit down and practice mindful breathing. Scholarly research touts its mental benefits, including improved attention and cognitive performance and reduced depressive symptoms and anxiety.
Robert E. Coleman Elementary, a school in Baltimore, has incorporated the practice of mindfulness in disciplining students. Instead of giving disobedient students detention, teachers instruct them to perform 15-minute breathing exercises or yoga with a partner instructor in the school’s Mindful Moment Room.
Despite the benefits of mindfulness, some remain skeptical about integrating it into their curricula. They argue that such programs need to be further tested and might only encourage passivity in risky situations.