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A couple of days ago, the Guardian asked for input from readers about what they think needs to change in education, given that it’s likely to be a key battleground for the 2015 election.
This jogged my memory back to an article I read earlier in the year about rough schools in San Francisco implementing a project called ‘Quiet Time’, where the kids would meditate twice a day. It can be and often is a completely secular practice, and one that can improve confidence and self-esteem, as well as reduce anxiety and stress.
It’s not just in California that these ideas are beginning to gain some momentum; 13 states across the country are implementing similar projects. Check out this cool infographic, made by the people at Edutopia, illustrating the benefits meditation has brought to US schools. Most people will agree that nap time is one of the best things about kindergarten – which is why a Chinese primary school was severely criticized for trying to replace afternoon naps with meditation. According to news reports, notices were sent to parents before the new semester, informing them that the school was going to do away with mid-day naps and introduce guided meditation instead.
The Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE) is dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of educational institutions and promoting human flourishing through practices that strengthen the neurophysiologic foundation of learning, teaching, and behavior.
Designed for grades 5 through 12, Quiet Time is a school-wide program that provides students two restful 15-minute periods each day to reduce stress, balance their lives, and increase their readiness to learn. For faculty and administrators, CWAE offers an integrated wellness program that includes, in addition to meditation, emphases on proper diet, exercise, and sleep. Silence isn't something people usually associate with middle school, but twice a day the halls of Visitacion Valley School in San Francisco fall quiet as the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students meditate for fifteen minutes.
And school administrators tell NBC News that the violence outside of the school, which is situated in one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods, was spilling into the school and affecting the students' demeanor.
Instead, he decided to extend the school day by 30 minutes for meditation time, which resulted in better academic performance and a 75 percent decrease in suspensions. Students at Visitacion Valley School in San Francisco meditate, as part of a program in which students meditate for fifteen minutes twice a day. I know it’s short notice but I will be submitting tomorrow and presenting on the 9th of March 2016. As more adults turn to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation to combat mounting stress in their own lives (91 percent of Americans experienced stress in the month of March, according to a Huffington Post survey), they're also experimenting with alternative practices to teach their kids to relax. Unfortunately, little ones aren't immune to the damaging effects of stress -- but they may benefit from stress-relieving practices meant to calm the mind and release physical tension.
Boston dad Andre Kelly told ABC News that he practices mindfulness meditation with his 10-year-old son Hayden every morning before school.
Mindfulness -- the focused awareness on the present moment, generally cultivated through a meditation practice -- can help to curb kids' impulsivity, and research has also shown school mindfulness programs to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety among adolescents.
With a growing body of research supporting the health benefits of mindfulness training, for the past few years, advocates have been hoping to see these programs become more prominent in school curricula. But the health benefits of mindfulness meditation for adults are far-reaching, and many of these positive benefits may extend to child practitioners as well.
The educational benefits of relaxation practices are also significant: Mindfulness meditation can improve focus and increase test scores. Some parents have also found that maintaining their own meditation practices can help them to be more patient, compassionate mothers and fathers. Parents interested in practicing meditation with their kids can start with a few basic tips for teaching children mindfulness practices -- and try a present moment awareness exercise and "belly breathing" relaxation practice. And for stressed-out kids who have a hard time sitting still and being quiet, physical activity can also have a calming effect. The Eagle Pose can be particularly beneficial for quieting the mind and bringing the attention to the body.

The first response from Camila Batmanghelidjh, a psychotherapist and founder of Kids Company, struck me. There are many aspects of education that are clearly in need of serious reform, and as such the discourse surrounding schools tends to focus on these issues; the nature of assessment, teaching methods, the curriculum, and so on. In Quiet Time’s first year, suspension rates dropped by 45%, and within four years it was one of the lowest in the city.
Thankfully, as knowledge of this is spreading, we’re gradually coming around to the idea that meditation can be a worthwhile exercise that doesn’t have to have anything to do with hippies, drugs, or even the broader ideas of religion and spirituality.
Moreover, it can lead to increased focus and concentration, doing wonders for kids’ ability to learn as well as the teacher’s ability to teach. Moreover, The Guardian featured ‘Mindfulness and the Art of Chocolate Eating’, a popular technique introduced to schools by an organization called ‘Mind Space’, on their top teaching resources list for 2013. There are wider systemic problems that need to be addressed irrespective of how many kids or teachers are meditating. The pilot meditation program at Shishan Shuben Primary School, in Chinaa€™s Guangdong Province, ran for only two days before it was scrapped following a backlash.
Hea€™s been practising meditation for the past 20 years, and claims that ita€™s very effective for resting. CWAE’s flagship program is the Quiet Time Program, a stress reduction and wellness program that enhances the holistic development of both students and faculty. The primary effects of the program are produced from practice of Transcendental Meditation, an extensively researched technique for stress reduction and brain development. CWAE also offers retreats for both students and faculty that combine meditation, yoga, knowledge meetings, and healthy food. Results to date include: improved school-wide GPA, higher standardized test scores, increased attendance, reduced student anxiety and psychological distress, decreased burnout and stress in teachers and administrators, increased emotional intelligence and coping ability in adults. But he changed his tune, when over a four-year period, suspensions decreased by 79 percent and attendance and academic performance noticeably increased.
Principal Bill Kappenhagen was skeptical at first, as well, and had to wrangle with the problem of when in the school day to grab a half hour for quiet reflection. Scott Center in Hathaway House, between the admissions office and Porter House.  More on Prajna from Addie Cleveland after the jump. Whether trying to make sense of a loaded weekend or get things organized for the next four days, students often feel a little bogged down.
Teaching kids mindfulness can go a long way in helping them boost awareness and control their moods, according to Kelly, who started a meditation program for children, Boston Buddha, to bring mindfulness programs into elementary schools. In a 2010 blog, Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child, argued for nothing short of a "mindful revolution in education," saying mindfulness programs can aid kids in developing good habits that will help make them happier and more compassionate.
An Ohio elementary school's mindfulness program was recently shut down due to parent complaints about the practice's ties to Eastern religions, and this week, a lawsuit went to trial over yoga classes at Encinitas Union School District in California.
Research has linked the practice of cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, greater emotional stability and improved sleep quality, heightened feelings of compassion and greater success achieving weight-loss goals, among a number of other advantages. A University of California study published this year found that undergraduates who participated in a two-week mindfulness training program demonstrated heightened working memory and improved reading-comprehension scores on the GRE. A recent European study found that higher levels of physical activity in children were associated with lower stress reactivity.
We Thank to organizers for the invite as well for the recent Appreciation Letter that our team of volunteers had received for our inner peace- meditation workshop that we’ve offered last year. She noted that some children are so disadvantaged that it affects their brain functioning to such a degree that they struggle to sit still and stay calm in school, never mind pass exams. But as a result, we often neglect a more fundamental issue and one that is surely of equal importance.

Now before you make an assumption about those Frisco hipsters and what might seem to be some sort of nostalgic throwback to the halcyon days of flower power and the counterculture, just hear me out.
Perhaps most significantly, in the annual California Healthy Kids Survey, these middle school youngsters were the happiest in all of San Francisco. A theme throughout Guardian responses was the need to attract and keep hold of the best teachers and head teachers.
Mind Space’s ‘Meditation in Schools Program’ has been introducing meditation for teachers and students across the UK. This is not a call to side step these very important issues however, rather it’s a reminder that by getting caught up in arguments that are so often tied up with ideology and political one-upmanship, we can forget the more fundamental stuff. They were then made to watch tutorial videos on how to meditate, featuringA the schoola€™s headmaster, Mr. He also thought the kids were uncomfortable and unsafe on the metal-framed beds in the schoola€™s poorly ventilated dormitories, so he decided to switch to meditation instead. Always gearing up for the next big thing (test, presentation, lab, practice, meeting, meal, bla bla bla), we rarely take the time to sit still, slow down, and focus on the present moment. The Meditation Club gets together every Monday evening to take a break from the books and just breathe. Parents who felt that the schools' Ashtanga yoga program was inherently religious in nature are suing the school for civil rights violations. The Letter is copied below as well the photos and stories from 2014 – for your enjoyment! Unsurprisingly the school suffered greatly from disciplinary problems; fighting, shouting, vandalism, low attendance and so on, all of which contributed to its poor academic performance while creating an environment counterproductive to learning.
De-stressing the school environment would make it a lot easier for teachers to do their jobs, and develop professionally. Kids and teachers are human beings – their ability to learn, share and engage, is dependent on their emotional wellbeing, and so its something that should form a more serious part of the debate. Everyone’s experience with seated meditation is different, so generally we sit together at the beginning for a shorter period of time (10 minutes). On the California Achievement Test, twice as many pupils in Quiet Time schools became proficient in English, compared with similar schools without the program, and the gap in maths abilities was even greater. Studies in the United States have also demonstrated that training teachers in mindfulness meditation can reduce their levels of stress and increase organisation and compassion.
Unfortunately, Wua€™s directions did not have the intended effect – most of the students slept anyway. Lots of them called in to complain, while social media users wrote that the program was too a€?cultisha€?.
Every once and a while, I’ll guide the first session with a body scan or suggest different methods to help calm the mind and feel attentive and present. A few years back David Lynch made an excellent documentary about his project to introduce transcendental meditation into an elementary school in Iowa, the results of which were also pretty transformative. We share a batch of freshly brewed chai tea, sit in a circle, chat about our experience, and then sit once more at the end of the hour (sometimes a little longer, but around 10-15 min). On paper, the club is known as Prajna, which is a Sanskrit term that translates to mean wisdom, understanding, or discernment. In all honesty, meditation is much easier to pronounce, and it gives people a clearer idea of what we’re up to.

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