Updated February 27, 2014.
Surrounded by poverty and escalating violence, the children at Visitacion Valley Middle School in urban San Francisco were used to experiencing high levels of stress and fear. Not only was ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) common, but some students also had PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome).
To try and reduce the stress levels in the children, and help them become more at ease in school, Visitacion Valley’s principal, James Dierke, chose to set the school on a path committed to peace. The middle school started a program of meditation, called “Quiet Time.” The program made students feel safer, teachers more productive, and brought unity and purpose to the school.
At Visitacion, Quiet Time involved 12 minutes of meditation at the beginning of school, and 12 minutes at the end of the school day. While these ‘Quiet Time’ sessions didn’t eliminate the stress triggers themselves, the school children did feel better equipped to deal with stressful situations after meditating.
When combined with other good practices in the classroom, meditation in schools helps lower truancy and suspensions.
The Benefits of Meditation in Schools
Since the program was implemented in 2007, the school cut its truancy rate in half—to 7%—while the state’s truancy rate rose to 30%. Suspension rates dropped to half of the state’s rate.
If we continue to do what we always done, we’re going to continue to get what we’ve always got, says Carlos Garcia, Superintendent, of San Francisco Unified School District…I don’t think that’s good enough. We need to try new things and see if they work. In education, our job is to touch the future.
For more resources on how meditation helps lower truancy and suspensions, visit Edutopia here.
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