Second-year private school teacher implements yoga and mindfulness techniques to help students self-regulate

Her second-graders said they enjoyed the scents and got to know the different plants used by the oils. This time, Williams chose a scent called “Cheer,” lit a video of a fireplace, and dimmed the lights.

Her students sat in a circle as quietly as they could, closed their eyes, and were ordered to breathe. One of his students started to laugh but then started to concentrate.

Williams was about to begin her 30-minute daily exercise with her students who combine yoga with mindfulness techniques in an effort to teach her students how to better manage their emotions and stay calm.

Williams is a Montrose resident who currently teaches second grade language arts at The Village School, a private international school near Memorial that teaches Kindergarten to Grade 12. Now in his 10th year of teaching, before starting The Village School, Williams taught schools around the world, learning mindfulness techniques along the way.

“I’ve always done things like that,” Williams said. “I’ve always done something that was mindfulness based, whether it was a mindfulness journal or a space in the classroom where kids can go when they just need a break.”

“I’m just trying to equip kids with self-regulatory strategies,” Williams said. “Over the past few years at Village, I have given more time to be able to include it in the school day.

Yoga and mindfulness in children have increased in recent years. According to a survey carried out in 2017 by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga practice among American children aged 4 to 17 was 8.4%, up from 3.1% in 2012. Research also shows that yoga provides training of the mind and body to bring emotional balance and can also contribute to healthy development and positive mental health.

Being an international school, some of Williams’ students who come from other parts of the world already have experience with yoga and mindfulness techniques. Some, Williams says, had an entirely new experience when they first started Quiet Weather.

“When we first started it took them a while to get used to the norms of not talking and respecting others during this time because it’s time for us to take a brain break,” said Williams. “They understood it very quickly. “

Williams mixes different techniques every day so students don’t get bored. From hydrated hand massages for the kids to have a sensory experience, meditations where Williams asks his students to quietly watch a video of a waterfall or a time-lapse video of blooming flowers.

“If one medium doesn’t work for kids, there’s always something different,” Williams said.

The main reason Williams implemented Quiet Time was to help reduce her student’s stress and anxiety. During the quiet time, Williams talks about the feeling of anxiety and tells them that what they are going through is normal and everyone has it too.

Williams said that by doing these exercises for so long, she began to see improvements in her students’ focus and attention span.

“Kids often don’t unplug,” Williams said. “They have a very busy school day, they go to extracurricular activities, and then a lot of them come home and do their homework or play video games so they are active all day, probably until. ‘they go to bed. “

“Having 15-20 minutes during the school day to sit quietly and let them enjoy, it’s just amazing to me that I can provide that to them. “

Williams says the student’s parents love him too. According to Williams, she has received emails from parents thanking her for bringing essential oil diffusers into their home.

Parent Jason Kariel, whose child Max attends in Williams’ class, says the exercises help Max, who is normally a very energetic child, calm down.

“I think with everything that’s going on right now, with COVID, kids have a lot of energy or anxiety or things going on in their lives and being able to calm down and focus is a good thing. this moment, ”Kariel said.

HISD has also implemented similar programs in recent years through the Sonima Health and Wellness program.

Rucker Elementary implemented a yoga and mindfulness program in early 2020 to help students gain better self-control and self-esteem.

“We wanted to create something that incorporates body movements while being fairly easy to learn and teach adults,” Nicole Batiste, social worker at HISD. Recount News from HISD. “Through this cost-effective program, we are introducing yoga positions and breathing techniques that can reduce anxiety and increase focus, especially during testing season when they might experience those feelings the most.”

Williams says she thinks yoga should be implemented in all schools because if students can’t stay calm, they can’t learn.

“We want them to be their best, and that’s part of it,” said Williams. “It should definitely be in all schools.”

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