Sleep Routine

“How many of you have problems with sleep?”

It is not surprising to see almost all hands slowly rise when posed this question. Sleep is such an important component to overall health and well being. Addressing these concerns should be a priority for all youth workers. Sleep is where everything happens for the heart, mind and body. Learning is integrated. Muscles are healed. Emotions are reset.

The promise of a restful night sleep is a motivating factor for students to bring this work out of the classroom and into their home. From infants to teenagers, our Sleep Routine works for everyone. It is crucial that children establish sleep hygiene habits at a young age. We have developed a series of positions from our Move Mindfully® Card Deck that are scientifically proven to get the body and mind ready for quality sleep.

Not only is this recommended for youth, but also adults! The quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity. Instead of rushing off to bed, taking 15 minutes with our Sleep Routine will pay off with high quality sleep to follow.

Here are the five easy steps to a great night sleep!

Child’s Pose

 

This is a great position to ready the body. It tunes out visual stimulation and allows focus on breath. We recommend staying here for 5-10 deep breaths. If you are using this pose with a child, the adult can place hands on back for back breathing.

 

 

 

Knees Hug In

 

 

 

Gently rocking side to side in this position to allow a decompression of the lumbar spine. It also massages the organs and soothes adrenals.

 

 

 

Legs Up the Wall

 

 

This inversion modification allows the legs to be above the heart, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. You can try this position on a chair or the bed if up the wall is not accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

Floor Twists

Keeping shoulders on the floor and twisting side to side not only readjusts the spine, but also has a detoxifying affect on the digestive system. After twists, it may feel good to do another Knees Hug In.

 

 

 

Final Relaxation

Even if you are a side or tummy sleeper, we recommend you spend the first 5-10 minutes on your back. Let all muscles release and focus on deep, restful breathing.

These positions should be taught and implemented throughout the day. Allowing 1-3 minute breaks trains the mind and body how to shut down. Also, keeping cortisol levels low throughout the day will have an impact at bedtime.

Have you tried a sleep routine with your children or yourself? How do you see yourself using these positions in your work? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Balancing Routine

Life is a balancing act.

In our movements we think of balance as an even distribution of weight. However, expanding the definition to “having correct proportions”, the idea of balance transfers to many different aspects of life.

Work life balance. Eating a balanced diet. A justice system of checks and balances. Balancing your finances. So, what does it mean to be balanced?

kidspiration

I posed this question to my students. We discussed the many applications of the word “balanced”. Students spoke of the importance of balance between time in nature and time with technology. Time with friends and time alone. Time feeling excited and time feeling calm. Next, they created a mind map in an App called Kidspiration.

Okay, I played along too! As an educator, I am always thinking about *gulp* standardized tests. I struggle to find the balance. The balance between convincing my students that the test is extremely important AND wanting to proclaim how truly unimportant it should be. The balance between providing test prep practice runs AND continuing with the social emotional time investment.

To help achieve balance, I turn to the Move Mindfully® Focusing Routine. The visuals are a fantastic resource during testing, where students are provided a three minute, no talking, break.

Balancing movements during testing breaks

The Balancing Routine

Here is the breakdown. The middle of focusing routine works on balancing by transitioning from tree pose to eagle pose. The challenge comes from keeping the lifted foot off of the Earth through every transition.

Begin in Tree Pose.

tree
From tree pose, lift the foot up and over into Eagle. Hug arms one under the other and squeeze in while keeping the crown of the head lifted.

For an added balance challenge, I threw in an additional balancing pose. From Eagle, bend the standing leg and extend the wrapped leg back behind to straight. Extend the arms out straight in front. Shine bright in Warrior III.

warrior III
From Warrior III, transition back to Tree.

tree

Better yet, try our Move Mindfully® Card Deck and create your own routines and balancing series!

Balance. What does it look like in your life? In your teaching? Do you think you could use this series with your students during testing? Leave a comment!

balancing in the classroom

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Transitioning Routine

Waiting in line can be difficult.

Waiting for the bathroom? Drinking fountain? Getting into the lunchroom? (Come to think of it… there is a lot of waiting) Waiting is hard. We often ask students to stand in line, and wait- quietly. However, I don’t think that many adults could accomplish such a task… I know I couldn’t. The Move Mindfully® Transitioning Routine is the perfect movement for hallway waiting.

Transitioning Routine

One student leads the routine while the others follow. After the leader has completed the sequence, they choose another student (someone who showed effort) to be leader. Since some hallway spaces require no talking at all, the leaders can lead without talking with the visuals of the posters.

forward folds in the hallway

You can even use this routine when you are outside waiting to come in the building. It is perfect for after recess! It works best when you have access to a wall, but it can be done without one as well.

Wall outside

I like this sequence because it calms (forward folds) and activates (chair) from a stationary position. Find these movements in our Move Mindfully® Card Deck. I like to hold chair for a few breaths. The students love the thigh burn.

wall inside

Some teachers will play the quiet game or statue game, but in my opinion, this option is even better because not only are students quiet and engaged, but they are also moving through self regulating movements. I even noticed a student using chair , unprompted, waiting to get into the library. The big posters are perfect for hanging in the hallway by the bathroom or drinking fountain.

 

Have you tried the transitioning routine? What’s worked well? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Centering Routine

How can we help students get ready to learn?

Are you teaching “small groups”? Rotating through reading stations, math stations, Daily 5, Daily 3, CAFE, conferring… Woosh, is your head spinning yet? I wonder how the students feel!

This trend of small, skill based, differentiated groupings, may be a good thing for academic goals, but it definitely increases the amount of transitions. The students are expected to move around the room, get materials, navigate space and remain focused on individualized academic tasks. That’s a lot to ask.

I have found ease in transition with consistent use of the Move Mindfully® Centering Routine.

centering routine

Using the Centering Routine

All students, the ones working in a small group and the others working independently or with partners, go through the routine. The entire routine is completed from a chair. It is perfect for starting groups or for seated body breaks. This routine also utilizes twists, which are great to promote digestion after lunch!

At the end of the routine I like to ring the chime to cue a slow transition out of the final rest and into the lesson.

head on desk

I have found that the most powerful position in the routine is “head on desk” version of child’s pose found in our Move Mindfully® Card Deck. I know the idea of “head down” can seem punitive, but I think this powerful pose just has had bad PR. It triggers the calming response to lower the neck and also shuts out visual stimuli.

Taking time to center and reset is an effective use of time. This intentional breath, movement, and rest allows a focused energy. I notice that after these moments, nobody gets up, moves around the room or asks to use the bathroom. You will find your students are more able to focus on the task at hand.

seated upward mountain

I know a movement based classroom is all the rage. Wiggle seats, wiggle standers and fidgets galore. Don’t get me wrong, I think that movement is extremely important. However, certain types of movement can be hyper altering and counter productive to achieving the ideal relaxed alert state. We need to offer intentional moments of stillness.

Do you use a centering routine after transitions? What have you done to promote stillness? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Calming Routine

In a world that never seems to stop moving, we all need a place to get grounded.

What does this look like in the real world? Recently on a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, I visited an entire room devoted for staff and patient mindfulness. In my classroom, we have the be station. After having many names (Take a Break, Relaxation Station, Think Chair) we have landed on be station. (Thank you to Fallon Henderson!) The thought behind this is that students are allowed to show up however they are and just be.

Here are some tips for creating your own be station.

calming routine

Allow Movement

It is crucial that space is provided for movement. A be station with just a chair, misses the bodywork that we know is so important to creating the ideal relaxed, alert state. If space allows, have a yoga mat on the floor to define the boundary. Limited on space? A simple carpet square will do the trick.

The movement at the heart of my be station is the Move Mindfully® Calming Routine. The students are familiar with this routine because we practice as a whole group 2-5 times a week.

practicing calming routine

The practice is necessary before students are expected to use the movement independently, especially if they are agitated. The Calming Routine is available in a large poster or smaller poster strips. Another option is to have students create their own routine from our Move Mindfully® card deck. Looking for something simpler? We also offer Permission to Pause posters with three movements and a Photo Book with one movement and affirmation per page. Whatever your choice, make sure students have the space and a visual resource that reinforces regulating movement.calming routine
Provide Resources for Breath Work

We recommend every be station includes a Hoberman Sphere. Especially if the sphere is already part of the daily routine, having an extra one in the be station will reinforce the belly breathing strategy. Also, pinwheels can be helpful to encourage a releasing breath.

Tap into the Senses

If your site allows, providing essential oils can be an effective way to shift an unproductive state. We love our Move Mindfully® roller bottle blendAnother option is adding a few drops of peppermint, lavender or wild orange to a spray bottle to give students choice. Visit our doTERRA site to see a complete list of essential oils available.

Nature can be a healing force in our regulation. Having a simple plant or even images of nature can create a grounding effect.

Our Occupational Therapists are a fantastic resource for providing sensory objects for your be station. From soft pillows to worry balls, having a variety of textures available is important.

child's pose

Your special education team may also have headphones available for students with audio sensitivities. Our students that are easily overstimulated with sounds of school day can find a self-soothing effect in noise cancelling headphones. Think about going underwater and hearing all sounds take on a muffled quality. It makes your breathing amplified and is incredibly grounding.

Classroom Management Tips

1. Only one student allowed in the area at a time. No exceptions.

2. The be Station is not for school work. This is a space to reset and refocus for the tasks of the school day, not a flex seating option.

3. Use a sand timer to limit duration. I recommend offering a few different options to give choice.

4. Model. At least once a week, I try to use the be station. In the beginning I’d hear whispers, “Look- Mrs. Kennelly is doing Yoga!” At first, I was doing it for my students- to be a model. However, now… I notice that I am a better teacher after my break! After I recharge I have more patience, energy and a positive attitude. I have even started using the last two minutes of my prep to do the Calming Routine before I pick up my class from specialists.

Are you ready to get started? Visit our store and pick up the be station kit. It has everything you need to put a be station in place. Looking for lesson plans? Our Teachers Pay Teachers store offers a Getting Started Kit with resources and videos to introduce the tools.

Do you use a be station? What works well? Please leave a comment below!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly