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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Every school needs an OASIS

September 15, 2011

A little break gets you through the day

When adults feel uncomfortable with what’s going on around us, we can often just up and leave.

But if you’re a tween or teen, from 8:20-2:55, Monday through Friday, you’re “doing school.” You’re in lock-down. If your peers make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe or worried or fearful, you’ve just got to suck it up.

Someone once said, “Real life is a mere shadow of high school.” For some kids who live and breathe the drama, they may look back at these years as the highlight of their life. When else do you get to feel so powerful as you immortalize other people’s humiliations?  Broadcast their betrayals? Fire up the feuds with half-truths and lies? Middle and high school students who are into this game may love school because it’s the ultimate reality show and they and their friends are mega-stars.

But not all kids enjoy the sport of tearing down other students. If they themselves are targeted by bullies, they hate the whole scene. Even if the toxicity isn’t directed at them, many kids just don’t like being around it. Either way, where can a kid who wants to opt out of the social garbage and have some peace during lunch to retreat to?

Here’s my idea…

I propose an OASIS… one quiet room in every school, only open at lunch & staffed by a calm teacher who wants to be there. No talking. No texting. Just soothing music. A place where everyone is welcome to just be. Simple, right? All you need is a room. (One thing all schools have plenty of.) No funding. No curriculum. No tests. No thing. Just a room that’s always empty at lunch, a caring teacher and an understanding that we all need an OASIS.

Your thoughts?





  1. When I was in the sixth grade, our teacher built a little wood “castle” in the corner of the room, filled with beanbags and books on shelves, where we could go and unwind, when our work was done, after school, lunch, and at recess. It was so amazing to go in there, pick a book, and chill out.

    I love your idea about Oasises (sp?) at the high school level–that sounds like heaven. Seems like the really good teachers my kids have had have at least opened up their rooms at lunch, to let the kids come in and just be.

    Comment by Kara Lucas — September 15, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

  2. Hi Kara, I’d say you had a brilliantly tuned in 6th grade teacher! You and the other students in that class were very fortunate. Gives you a real appreciation of the value of chillin’.
    Thanks for sharing that lovely memory. No reason why middle and high schools everywhere can’t set up a lunch time OASIS tomorrow. Build some lovely memories for today’s kids.

    Comment by Annie — September 15, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  3. Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll even volunteer to hang out there.

    Comment by Dara Blaker — September 16, 2011 @ 7:41 am

  4. Annie,
    It sounds so blissful to have a quite place to retreat to during lunch hour. It also makes sense to incorporate yoga and meditation into physical education or health class. Along with other practical information for life, it would be great to give kids the tools they need to decompress. Thanks for the post.


    Comment by Joan Grangenois-Thomas — September 16, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  5. When my daughter (who is an Aspie) was in middle school, she was the pariah of the lunch room. She’d wander around, overwhelmed by the noise, and at each table kids would say, “Don’t sit here, Pam.” She’d end up on the stairs of the stage. After about a month of this, they asked if I’d mind if she ate lunch in another room, staffed by an aide. I was delighted, as was Pam. No one picking on her, no overwhelming noise and visual stimuli of 300 kids at once in a cafeteria. Within a couple weeks there were another five kids, and they spent the next year and a half in a congenial lunch group. The aide brought in a TV/DVD player, and the kids took turns bringing in movies to watch.

    Comment by Andrea Noren — September 19, 2011 @ 8:27 am

  6. I love the idea of a calming, tranquil spot in schools where students could just “be”. When I was in middle school, I had to resort to helping my English teacher file papers in order to escape the bullies and noise and confusion of the cafeteria at lunch time. I could have used an oasis during other periods of the day as well.

    Comment by Carol Sue — September 23, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

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