“This made me feel so calm,” reports an AGC 1st grader while drawing paths through a bowl of salt and glitter, “now when someone tells me to calm down, I know what to do.”
AGC’s K-2 Wellness classes found inner peace this week while making Japanese rock gardens. “Some children did it for 15 minutes without a sound,” says Ms. Jayaram, “they felt so calm and peaceful.” Through this and other activities in Ms. Jayaram’s Wellness class, which, for their current Unit of Inquiry is focusing on strategies for “inner peace,” help students at AGC develop crucial self-control skills.
Often, children are asked to adjust behavior, but lack the skills or knowledge to do so. “My parents are always telling me to be calm, and I didn’t know what to do. Now I know what to do,” explains a student in Ms. Jayaram’s class. Other strategies explored during this unit have included yoga, mindful breathing, and guided mindfulness meditation. After each activity, students are asked to reflect on its helpfulness. Their responses have been overwhelmingly positive.
Research shows that students who are taught to manage their own energy and stress levels achieve higher GPAs, work habits, and cooperation behaviors. Relaxation programs can also increase emotional balance and reduce feelings of helplessness and aggression. At AGC, we have found these curriculum, nutrition education, social-emotional curriculum and support, and the Responsive Classroom approach to be instrumental in creating a peaceful, vibrant and positive school environment. This approach allows us to fulfill our mission to foster mindful leaders who take action now and in the future to positively impact their communities and the world beyond.