Students in Action: Mental Health Awareness & Practicing Mindfulness

Since the pandemic we have seen an alarming increase in children experiencing anxiety and stress along with a decrease in positive social-emotional response. During the pandemic children were taught virtually with little to no in- person social interactions with children their own age. This has led to a rise in children struggling to self-regulate and be self-aware. It is because of this we are seeing an increase of SEL, social- emotional learning, inside all classrooms. Providing students with ways they can focus on their mental health is of the upmost importance. Below I share with you techniques and strategies that have worked for my students this school year. I hope you find them helpful.

This school year I have incorporated several different techniques that students have found helpful along with using a curriculum called OmmWorks. Throughout the school year I have taught students how to practice mindful breathing, mindful movements, and how to take a mindful minute.

Mindful breathing techniques are used with all grade levels pre-k through 5th. After 40 minutes of engaging physical activity to help strengthen our minds, bodies, and hearts we take a moment to just breathe. We close our eyes and breathe focusing only on our bodies, inhaling, and exhaling, listening only to the sound of our breathing.  The OmmWorks curriculum has several breathing techniques. My two favorites used in class are fire breath and lion breath. After practicing our mindful breathing, students line up calm and ready to learn.

Mindful movements are used mostly with my intermediate grade levels. Mindful movements are done at the beginning of class. We discuss our day, the emotions we are currently feeling and move our bodies to the beat of the music. Students are free to express themselves by how they are feeling. This assessment assists me with how I should proceed with the day’s lesson. We also practice mindful movements at the end of class with our stretches from OmmWorks working on our static and dynamic balance. Our most used stretches are tree, warrior 1-3, and savasana. To make the stretches fun and relevant to my primary students I call them the flamingo, airplane, and starfish.

Mindful minutes are taken throughout class. This is a practice I started while teaching in the Summer Boost program. Mindful minutes are taken when a student is feeling overwhelmed with their emotions and know they are unable to give a positive social-emotional response. This practice allows students to work on their self-regulation and self- awareness. Practicing this everyday has greatly improved their responses in situations that occur in class.

OmmWorks has really been an incredible resource in class. The curriculum has allowed for me to make connections with students and build stronger student- teacher relationships. If you use a strategy or technique not mentioned here, please share it with us. If you would like to check out OmmWorks or connect with me I have placed this information below.

Author: Valeri Cheseldine      Email: valech2@mail.regent.edu         Site: https://ommworks.com/

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Valeri Cheseldine, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com.

Pair this post with the following:

Humanizing the Classroom by Dr. Scott M. Petri (blog post)

Humanizing the Classroom by Kristin Stuart Valdes (book)

The Power of Meaningful and Joyful Experiences by Leticia Cariño (blog post)

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