The SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness methods very effectively relate to under-served children, those living in inner-cities with many adverse conditions present in their homes and neighborhoods. Our simple SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness calming techniques develop resilience, compassion, and coping skills for youth to navigate more constructively through adversity. Once children learn how they themselves can approach a problem with calm thinking and helpful motivations, self-confidence increases and academic performance has the possibility to improve.
Each time I go into a classroom, I have the honor of sitting in front of 25 or more children, eagerly awaiting the SCHOOL Kids Yoga class. Typical Los Angeles classrooms include racial diversity with the majority of Hispanic students. Having taught in Los Angeles public schools for 14 years, I have observed and responded to the common ground understanding of children of diverse cultures. Recently, I chose two students after class to come up to the front and together put the many hearts I have placed by my mat back into the straw basket I carry with me into schools. In today's Pre-K class, I chose two girls to help. One of the little girls has a slight learning delay. As they both carefully worked together to place the hearts in the basket, the little one the the learning delay picked up the last heart. Instead of placing the heart in the basket herself, she handed it to the other girl so she could place the last heart in the basket. I have watched many students give the last cherished heart to their classmate. The depth of simple kindness, sharing and togetherness the inner-city children possess is profound. I was, and still am, moved to tears to watch these acts of kindness. How can we stand back and hope/assume that the basic good qualities that children possess will grow and strengthen as time go on, given the adverse conditions they experience every day and at such a young age? We can't take for granted that social and emotional learning will grow on its own. Now is the time in education that we nurture kindness in order to grow caring communities. Let us not wait until it is too late. Let us be proactive about helping our dedicated teachers and children.
A first grade boy, attending an inner-city school, also moved me to tears one day. He is usually positioned on the front row when we sit down on the reading rug for our SCHOOL class. This day, he was sitting on the third row. He had taken to the calming methods very well and despite his learning delays, was demonstrating what I know to be true from my 14 years of experience - that all children have the opportunity to participate equally within the context of calm breathing, moving, and positive affirmations. I was selecting a student who was raising their hand to sit beside me on my mat to help teach the next part of the class. I called on this little boy to help me. He popped up happily to walk forward to my mat while saying, "Thank you, Ms. Kelly, for choosing me." He expressed such genuine gratitude and he was wonderful in leading the group. We teachers are so very inspired when we see the motivation to learn shine through in our students. Teaching social and emotional regulation in classrooms is an important element to teacher's efficacy and students absorption of knowledge.
In SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes, we sit down together - recalling our common ground. Remembering that we are all much more alike than different, we are soothed and comforted. This is the point from which life learning expands.