SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Learning to stay calm during high-stress moments is a task most everyone has to work on; it’s also a skill students are learning at one school in Springfield.
The Summit Preparatory School has taught mindfulness in some grades before. But this year, every student is learning it for the very first time.
Andres Garcia is going through his first year doing mindfulness exercises in school. He’s a seventh-grader.
“I think it’s very helpful,” Garcia said. “It deals with a lot of stress that middle school students have. With quizzes and homework, it lets me have just a few minutes of relaxing time. Moving from one grade to another, you start getting more and more work. So, it helps. I feel a lot more relaxed and calm.”
Garcia says even when he’s not in school, he does some mindfulness exercises to relax.
Here’s how it works:
- A teacher puts on a meditation video from a non-profit called Inner Explorer.
- Students are told to close their eyes, relax and focus on their breathing.
- They are also asked to say positive things about themselves: “I am smart, I am a good listener, I am a good friend.”
Dulsey Stewart is a school parent and a yoga teacher at The Summit. When Stewart heard about the school’s plans to teach mindfulness to every grade, she says she was ecstatic.
“As a parent, I was so excited,” Stewart said. “We could incorporate different forms of movement and awareness to the kids. Not only does it help them academically, but mentally it helps them. It also helps them discipline-wise and just all over total growth for these kids. It was a really good addition.”
Since practicing mindfulness in school, Stewart says she has noticed a similarity between her kids and her students.
“If they feel themselves getting worked up, I’ve noticed that they will sit and just take a breath,” Stewart said. “That’s the most important thing for them to learn is how to stop and check-in with themselves before they make that decision or before they make that bad decision.”
Stewart says she has even seen some kids doing yoga poses on the playground.
“That makes me so happy that they want to be doing those things,” Stewart said. “They’re having that exercise and making it fun for themselves.”
Marissa Bradley is a kindergarten teacher at The Summit. She has actually done this exercise with her students for the last few years.
“It’s super important to consider the whole child’s development,” Bradley said. “That’s not just the academic piece. It’s also the social, emotional, regulation and self-esteem and confidence. We’re working towards building their confidence and helping them be successful, not just in kindergarten but all the way through high school and then beyond into their adulthood.”
Bradley says after a mindfulness exercise, students are more in control of themselves and ready to take on the day.