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Lessons from Peterborough Elementary School - how to ensure sustainability of Yoga 4 Classrooms in your school

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Peterborough Elementary School can be named one of the exemplar schools implementing the innovative programming for better learning and healthy lifestyle. We are excited to highlight how the school managed to create an open and conducive environment to embrace Yoga 4 Classrooms.

A Licensed Yoga 4 Classrooms Trainer, Sarah Aborn, has just completed her 10 week residency at the school with amazing success and support from staff and parents. It was the excited, motivated teachers and administrators who made all the difference in setting the right tone and helping children internalize the curriculum. The support of the in-classroom program also lead to Sarah now offering an additional, after school yoga club - “because I have 260 kids hooked on yoga” in Sarah’s words.

“This is enriching mine and all the students' lives to no end! I cannot stress enough how many kids are just soaking this material up, on such deep levels”, - says Sarah Aborn.

How did Peterborough Elementary School manage to engage the staff, the students and the parents during the implementation of the Y4C program? Below are some valuable tips!

• The school offered the Staff Development Workshop to everyone working in the school before the start of the 10 week residency, and also incorporated the Parent Education component of the Y4C. This is the best decision a school can make to ensure sustainability of the program after the residency is over!

• From the very beginning, the Principal was committed to informing the parents of Sarah’s residency lessons on weekly basis, incorporating pictures, Y4C cards and the newly developed Y4C Family Letters into his weekly Friday Parent Newsletter. Here is an example of what he shared with the parents:

“Yoga 4 Classrooms started this week. Sarah Aborn, certified Yoga 4 Classrooms instructor, worked with every class in the school. The theme for the week was mindfulness. Sarah taught the students strategies for relieving stress about homework, tests, and other challenging parts of their days. The practice of putting breath, body, and mind together creates an environment of mindfulness to decrease stress. The students learned about Magic Focus Points, Silent Seconds, and Balloon Breath. They also learned the tree pose along with sitting and standing mountain. Ask your child to share some of the exercises with you. You’ll be amazed at how calm you feel afterwards”.

• Another great example of the school staff embracing the program is the wonderful use of technology to help students pay attention and enjoy what they’re learning. Mr.Rothaus, a second grade teacher, utilized the Smart Board during the Y4C residency lessons. All Y4C Cards used in the lessons were scanned and uploaded into the Smart Board, allowing Sarah to “flip” electronically through the cards that are a focus of the day’s lesson. The images are then are enlarged on the Smart Board for the whole class to easily see and follow the instructions as modeled by Sarah.

The same teacher also created a "magic focus point" which is labeled as such and just a big, colorful dot, on the Smart Board page next to the Y4C Card the class is working on, for those students who choose to use it.

• The school engaged the students to create videos as a sort of “thank you” note to the PTO, interviewing Sarah, their teachers and other students about the Y4C program. Some of the questions included inquiring about the change in students’ well-being, emotions, coping with anxiety and anger, and asking teachers about their impressions about changes in classroom climate. Encouraging self-reflection on the part of the students in this creative activity is a great way to tie-in the mission of Y4C.

Finally, to build excitement about the program, the school’s Yoga 4 Classroom residency has been featured in the local newspaper, Monadnock Region Ledger-Transcript, highlighting the techniques taught within the curriculum that help kids cope with stress and negative emotions and lead to better school outcomes.  As featured in the article:

The School’s Principal Ben Loi said the program, which is partially sponsored by the Parent Teacher Organization with other funding coming from the school’s cocurricular activities budget, fits well with the school’s mission. “Our goal is to create opportunities for kids to be successful,” Loi said. “This program teaches kids to let go of things — stress, anxiety — and move on. Math and reading are important, but students need these life skills as well.”

Read the full story here.

For more on parent involvement in educational programs, read this resource roundup by Edutopia.

Interested in learning how your school can become a Yoga 4 Classrooms school? Learn more about bringing the Staff Development Workshop and Y4C Residency to your school, and about Y4C Trainer Intensives for yoga teachers and education professionals.

To purchase the Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck visit our online boutique.

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