What is immediately noticeable when you enter Rising Star Elementary School in the morning is the quiet. Upon entering a classroom, you may be greeted with low lights, soft music, and questions on the screen for students’ journaling including:
- Today I feel, because
- This is something I was successful at yesterday
- One thing I am stressed about or need to let go is:
- One thing I am grateful for is:
All classes at Rising Star begin their day with “Mindful Mornings” modeled after researched-based “Calm Classroom” curriculum and led by Rising Star social worker, Tammy Horn.
“Our students come from a variety of environments and consistency is very important,” noted Horn.
Younger students may select from different pictures to share their feelings. Following their writing, some classes have free reading time or talk about their entries in circle time. Finally, classes join together to view a “30 Seconds of Calm” video. The videos are made by Rising Star students and staff members and focus on mindful breathing and mindful motion. The goal is helping students learn more about how the brain works and how to self-regulate.
As the school year ends, Horn said she receives fewer student requests early in the morning, a trend she attributes to the morning activities. She has also seen a shift among students students in the upper grades who are becoming more adept at self-regulating.
“Our morning routine helps me focus so I can learn better,” shared Audrey Whitaker, fourth-grader.
And what’s next? Horn intends to offer more in-depth in the study of the brain at Rising Star. She also plans to offer the mindful curriculum and journaling at home to families through Family Engagement Nights.
“I used to begin mornings with an academic-based task like a math worksheet that could be very stressful to some students,” said Eva Gryszowka, third-grade teacher. “Now each of my students know exactly what to expect. The routine is very simple and clear and the pacing is easy to prepare them for the day.”