Engaging your students in simple social-emotional exercises that can easily be integrated into your classroom can establish a calm and focused learning environment, as well as create a sense of community. The powerful effect of such activity is a great way for students to get the wiggles out and get ready to learn.
Breathing exercises are best taught when your students are already relatively calm—and silliness is at a minimum. There are many different breathing techniques, but all of them can be effective as a means of a calming exercise because concentrating on the breathing will focus your students’ minds. Here are three easy ones you can try:
· Lead your students in an “in through your nose” and “out through your mouth” deep breath exercise for three minutes before beginning a lesson.
· Practice group “Darth Vader” breathing—a fun way to incorporate a character while simultaneously commencing a breathing exercise!
· Instruct your students to put their hands on their bellies and focus on the rise and fall as they breathe slow breaths in and out.
When breathing exercises aren’t enough to relieve the tension and pent-up energy, physical activity can sometimes do the trick—and it can be done seated! Tension is held in the neck, and doing neck circles one way and then the other followed by shoulder circles forwards and backwards is a great way to calm kids. Wrist and finger stretches are also a nice warmup before undertaking a writing task.
Vocal exercises such as chanting or singing your students’ favorite songs can help children to be more calm and focused, as well as enhancing wellbeing and increasing confidence. Even something as simple as counting together as a group (depending on your group’s age), can focus your students’ minds.
The benefits of reading aloud to your students are endless, but doing it in a relaxing atmosphere can have a soothing effect that will calm your kids and get them ready to learn. Here are some of our favorite read alouds for grades preK-3.
*Note: Before leading any physical activity, make sure none of your students have a health condition that requires restrictions on physical activity.