Many schools are taking a different approach in helping children in school improve behavior.
Dee Marie is bringing yoga to classrooms. She says she saw a need to teach non-violent coping skills after Columbine, so she created the non-profit group Calming Kids.
The group teamed up with researchers at Harvard University to study the effects.
“We got up to 93 percent less hitting,” Marie says. “We got incredible increase up to 86 percent increase in focus. Focus on their classwork, focus on their homework.”
The simple techniques of the yoga practice are transforming behavior, even the behavior of bullies.
“Students were able to settle in themselves better and started to get some ah-ha moments,” Marie says. “And what was really interesting was that the bullies started to recognize that they were bullies.”
Marie’s program is global, reaching several states, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
She’s going back to the West Bank to teach for a second time next year.
Similar programs are offered to help children.
Jim and Lyneea Gillen started Yoga Calm when they saw students with learning disabilities or impacted by trauma having a tough time.
“Initially I tried to get kids into counseling, but there weren’t many services in a small town, and when there were, they weren’t affordable for families,” explains Lyneea Gillen.
The couple got their business accredited and began tracking results.
“72 percent of the kids reported using the techniques at home unsolicited in a response to stress,” Jim Gillen says.
Both programs now offer online courses.
“It’s a solution to some of the problems we’re seeing in schools right now,” Lyneea says. “I think we’ve met a need.”
In Baltimore, some schools have even swapped detention for a meditation and mindfulness room and saw fewer children getting referred for discipline.