Photo by Megan Baxter
Mindful Movement helps elementary classroom calm and recharge
November 6, 2018
At Lake Elmo Elementary, classrooms are safe, welcoming and stress free because of the Mindful Movement that made its way into elementary school classrooms across the district.
The Mindful Movement gives the opportunity for students to take a break, and recharge their minds and bodies throughout the day. This has proven to reduce behavior issues and increase academic achievement.
“This is a life skill,” Lake Elmo Principal Stephen Gorde said. “Regardless of your age or situation, stress is always going to be part of your life and this mindful approach can counteract many of the negative attributes of stress, which students will be able to use throughout their lives.”
Teaching different techniques that help calm students down and refocus their minds reinforces how to keep stress under control. The Mindful Movement gives elementary students strategies that they can use and hopefully teach to others as they get older.
Students are learning many different strategies that impact the brain, its ability to learn and avoid fear, stress and trauma.
“Some strategies students learn are different postures that help activate and calm their parasympathetic nervous system,” Lisa Boland Blake, an instructional coach at Lake Elmo Elementary, said.
There are a variety of things students learn throughout the school year including reading postures, breathing techniques and many different yoga moves, which helps them learn more about their mind and bodies.
More elementary students with trauma based mental health needs are going to school not knowing ways to calm down.
“We can help kids really believe in and love their own bodies and when they’re in tune with that they’re less likely to hurt it,” Blake said.
Academic stress, social stress and family stress affect almost all children, and having The Mindful Movement program in schools helps to alleviate anxiety and behavior problems among children.
Not only is The Mindful Movement benefiting students, it also benefits teachers who have learned more about personal development through these techniques to calm the mind.
Blake said, “We have started many staff meetings with a very brief set of movements, or breathing exercises, just to help us all come together and to be focused, so we’re even using these techniques to help teachers too.”
The basic principle of the Mindful Movement is students learn to care for themselves, and not worry as much about what other people think, they eventually know how to take care of their bodies and appreciate the strength that they have.
There are teachers throughout the district who have gotten certified in this method and are applying it to their classes with the help of The Partnership Plan, who funds The Mindful Movement.
“Since it was so successful at Lake Elmo Elementary, we wanted to figure out if there was a way for us to be able to spread that around to all the other Elementary Schools,” Beverly Petrie, Executive director of The Partnership Plan, said. “That’s why we raised money at our Partnership Party Gala in April.”
The Partnership Plan is a non-profit organization which supports the Stillwater Area Public schools, and is currently trying to find ways to include yoga into more schools like high schools around the district. Including The Mindful Movement into high schools could be quite difficult because the high school has a bigger population, as opposed to an elementary school.
“There’s a lot of teachers at the high school and because students are older they can sort of get this training on their own,
” Petrie said. “We’re hoping that as teachers figure out how to make it happen in the smaller settings, that they’ll come up with ideas about how to implement it at the high school level.”
High school students want be able to get involved and help teachers find ways to include a time for yoga into their school, which will decrease the amount of students with anxiety disorders if they are able to use these mindful techniques.
Since anxiety disorders are the number one cause for depression and other mental illnesses, high school students being aware of The Mindful Movement is important. With support, The Mindful Movement will succeed across our school districts.