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St. Joseph’s ‘Mindful Movement’ project earns funding

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
St, Joseph’s kindergarten students practice yoga techniques in their classroom. A variety of ‘mindfulness’ practices have been employed with kids to positive effect on behaviour and learning. Photo submitted

By Chris Marchand 

A local project that’s seeing the benefits of ‘mindfulness’ for students at St. Joseph’s School is getting some funds for expansion through the Ontario Ministry of Education.

The Teacher Learning and Leadership Project (TLLP) granted St. Joseph’s School’s — The Mindful Movement: A Journey Toward Self-Regulation and Emotional Education — just under $30,000 in funding to further explore the use of mindfulness and relaxation techniques in the classroom.

“We’re going to look deeper into the self-regulation piece,” said St. Joseph’s teacher Tiffany Goulet. “How people respond and recover to stressors. The mindfulness piece was all about getting our kids to be aware of their bodies, their breath and their emotions. Now the self-regulation piece is going to be about helping them to deal with all of that.”

The project will roll out with staff training, guest speakers and resource development in both French and English languages.

The program began with kindergarten students and has since spread upward through the grades at St. Joe’s into nearly 80 per cent of classes. Goulet says it’s especially effective during transition periods as kids switch gears from playing outside to re-entering a learning environment. 

“It’s built a sense of community in the classroom, but it’s also giving kids as young as three and four the skills to notice how they’re feeling and to articulate it,” said Goulet. “When kids can’t do that, then it sort of manifests as a behaviour. What it’s done is really reduce that behaviour in a way that we can recognize what’s happening and help them out.”

Emerging from Goulet’s own experiences with yoga practice, she says the project draws from a wide variety of sources.

“You have to consider a huge variety of offerings,” said Goulet. “It could be mindful colouring, or music, or affirmations. What we want is to expose kids to a lot of different things so that they can attach to the one that works for them. What might be calming to one kid, might not be calming to another child. We want to switch the energy from outside, which is very active and high energy, to bring them down to a level that allows them to be calm and alert. If we give this to children at age three and four and it becomes a normal part of their day in the years after, it becomes ingrained in them. Then when they have stress in their life, or they meet with challenge they know already what to do.”

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