Elementary students in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District are practicing breathing techniques and yoga-based movements through a new curriculum called Move Mindfully.
Edward Neill, Vista View and Sky Oaks elementary schools are implementing the new curriculum after receiving funding through Dakota County Public Health. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, parents are invited to learn more about the program at a Move Mindfully open house at Sky Oaks.
“It is yoga-based movement, but its not yoga,” said Sarah Singleton, a first grade teacher at Sky Oaks. “It’s definitely a social, emotional curriculum where we are teaching self-regulation.”
Singleton said that students are learning to articulate how their bodies are feeling — the answer is often “wiggly.”
Move Mindfully is a new tool for her active classroom, she said. “Just Dance” videos on Youtube — which often left the students more amped-up and less ready to learn — have been replaced with movements such as the mountain pose and woodchopper pose.
A five-week classroom residency with a certified Move Mindfully curriculum instruction is wrapping up at Sky Oaks. In addition, staff completed eight hours of training so they can continue implementing the practices throughout the school — including the special education classrooms.
Vista View Elementary Principal Jeff Nepsund said in a release from the district that the practices work well with the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, which helps focus students who are acting out.
Around the schools, posters illustrate different series of movements aimed at regulating certain emotions and feelings, such as returning to the classroom after recess.
“When I’m teaching, I can look and go, ‘OK, we are really wiggly, now what do we need?’” Singleton said. “Their body is telling me that they need something and now, for the first time, I have the tools to try different things with them, and it’s been really fun.”
Chimes, picture cards and breathing exercise balls are kept in Singleton’s classroom — they are all part of the Move Mindfully curriculum. During breathing exercises, students help each other count their breaths in and out and give each other compliments when the exercise is done. Another favorite is passing around a clear ball filled with glitter and watching the glitter settle.
The curriculum, provided by a well-being training and consulting company called 1000 Petals, has been implemented in over 500 classrooms, according to the company’s website.
Singleton said that staff hopes that students will learn to rely on these practices outside the classroom, too. Above all, she said that she is most excited to see students learning how to take care of themselves and be aware of their own needs.
“You always want them to be empowered beyond you,” she said. “It’s cool to see that starting.”