When parents mirror classroom interventions at home… magic happens.
As a first grade teacher in a culturally diverse community, there are always challenges that arise with meeting a variety of needs. Over the past years, I have been able to focus on a few keystone challenges that all seem to center around self-regulation.
Our school wide efforts began with simple breathing strategies. Although most of my students responded to the deep, belly breathing, it wasn’t enough. Especially after recess students would transition back to the classroom still in a space of excess energy. Either goofy or angry behaviors would get in the way of our math lesson. The first grade bodies in front of me were not ready to learn, and they were not ready to take deep breaths either. What to do?
Creating an After Recess Routine
With support from our Move Mindfully® Residency instructor and an Occupational Therapist, I created a series of movements designed for after recess that focus on full impact core work. The idea here is that big sensory input was necessary before the body can be ready to transition to deep breathing and then finally to the learning objectives. I was ready to present the routine to my students! (Child’s pose, table, down dog, plank, cobra and finally ending again in child’s pose)
The first piece that was critical in the After Recess Routine roll out was stretch spots. I strategically assigned each student to a spot around the room, separating those that needed to be seperated, giving space to those that needed more space and keeping those near me that well… needed to be near me!
Then, I taught the routine. The real power in this routine is when students reach the “ending”, I modeled how to ask, “Is my body ready to learn?” If the answer was no, then they would start over, back to table and go through the routine again. I encouraged them that they could go for as many rounds as they needed until their body was ready to learn! At that point, they would come to the carpet where I would be starting the math lesson. This also built in a piece of self-awareness and responsibility for body readiness.
Impact- Bringing it Home
The difference was immediate. There was increased focus, participation and an overall feeling of wellness. With conferences coming up I thought, “what if we could bring this energy into the students’ homes?” I took photographs of my students demonstrating the movements and wrote up a description of each. Then, I worked with our cultural liaisons Heidi Grant and Sahra J Abdullahi to have the content translated into Spanish and Somali. During conferences I gave this handout to parents as a way to not only share what we were doing in the classroom, but also encourage some of its use at home. I received feedback that students were already using the movements before bedtime and teaching their siblings!
Have you tried to share self regulation strategies with parents? What has worked well? Leave a comment!
Mom to an incredible little boy, First Grade Teacher, lover of coffee and comfy clothes.