After Recess Routine

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.

After my Yoga Calm® Training and our  on-site workshop at the beginning of the year, I felt confident that my toolkit was ready to support the variety of needs that would arise in my classroom.

sky oaks move mindfully workshop

Getting Started

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!

Stretch Spots

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.

child's pose

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!

You can find this movement sequence template on Teachers Pay Teachers. There is even an editable version where you can include your own students photographs!

Teachers Pay Teachers Movement TemplatesHigh Energy Sequence

Have you tried to share self regulation strategies with parents? What has worked well? Leave a comment!

Written By,

Sarah Singleton

Mom to an incredible little boy, First Grade Teacher, lover of coffee and comfy clothes.

Sarah Singleton

6 replies
  1. Joanne Esser
    Joanne Esser says:

    I appreciate your decision to let students decide for themselves when they are ready to return to the group for the math lesson. This gives them practice in decision-making and body awareness. Letting them do the sequence as many times as they need for themselves on that particular day is an act of trust! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Linda Enck
    Linda Enck says:

    Thank you for truly understanding what students need after recess/lunch. I recently attended a mindfulness day 2 with you and first heard of doing the same routine at the same time each day! What a win win! It’s easy for me to lead and for the students to follow. The predictably for the students gives them a sense of order, security and calmness. Thank you.

  3. socialworkerdaisy
    socialworkerdaisy says:

    I have a student who comes to my office to start her day off with some yoga poses as she often does not feel ready to learn. After a few minutes of yoga she reports her body feels much better prepared for the day (and honestly, mine does too!). I would love to see more teachers and staff use yoga with students.


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