Feedback from Students of Robert C. Parker School on their practice of ‘Focusing on breathing’

‘Focusing on Breathing’ was introduced to all the classes Robert C. Parker School in Feb 2009.

The investment of time and effort was

  • Introduction to all the teachers during a faculty meeting – 15 minutes
  • Introduction to each class – 15 minutes for classes Pre K 4 to Gr 5 and 30 minutes for Gr 6 to 8
  • One review visit by me to every class after about 3 months
  • Some classes (Pre K4, K/1 and Gr 2/3) used to practice it every day, for a minute or two as part of their daily circle meeting. Gr 4 to 8 had no such daily reinforcement.
  • Cost to the school – None

Meg Taylor Head of Parker says in her Blog Dt Dec 1,09: “One of the ways we help children cope with stress at Parker is by practicing the simple mindful breathing taught us by C.S., the grandfather of Veda in 4-5. It is one of his life’s missions to spread this easy and effective way to reduce anxiety. The breathing technique is practiced regularly by almost all the children in the school.”

Is there any such technique that can be introduced to children of this age group so cheaply, that will be absorbed so easily and enables them to practice on their own and would elicit such feelings and thoughts?

Please explore the possibility of introducing this technique in your child’s school. I can help on-line.

Feedback from all the classes

The Feedback from all the classes was collected in a simple form from all the classes in May 10. It is presented below, first the summary and then class wise.

PART ONE: SUMMARY OF FEEDBACK (See part II for grade wise feedback)

Class Age On Roll Number  practicing %
Pre School 4 15 7 50
KG  &  Gr 1 5 to 7 20 18 90
Gr 2 &  3 7 to 9 18 17 95
Gr 4 & 5 9 to 11 16 16 100
Gr 6 to 8 11 to 14 33 5 17
Total
102 63 60

When do I practice the technique?

 

Time of practice          Number               %

Bed time/ Sleep                    27                         43
Morning meeting                 21                          33
Angry/ Mad                             8                            13
At school                                  7                             11
In car/ Bus/ Plane                7                             11
Morning at home                   5                              8
In shower                                 4                               7
Others 2 each: Bored, At home after school,  On waking up, When stressed.
Others 1 each: To become calm: Crazy,  Feeling yucky, Trying to hold tears,  Out of control, Upset,  Overwhelmed,  Before Dinner to be patient, Sad  To cope: Need to focus, Tired, After exercise  To engage themselves: When I like it,  Grandma’s house,  Every day at home   I Don’t use it: Not very often, I don’t use it.

 

How does it help me? (response, Number of responses, percentage)

Response                                           Number of responses                       %

Calms me down                                                     21                                                  33
Sleep                                                                         18                                                   28
Relax                                                                         18                                                   28
Concentrate                                                            7                                                    11
Keep away sadness                                              2                                                     3
Survive                                                                     2                                                      3
Feel good                                                                 2                                                       3

 

Others -1 Each:

For better mental states: Be peaceful, Feel the silence, Shuts my mind down, Makes me feel happy, Feel silent, Have a good day, Stop crying as much, Helps me be patient at dinner time, On the plane it helps me because I am usually scared but I don’t get scared any more  Practical uses: After that I am not tired any more, Keep away bad dreams, Wake up, Keep awake at home after school, Takes away my cough a little, Stop car sick, Slow down my heart rate, Shortens the lessons, Relieve stress, Helps me so I can get my books and not lose any of them  Unique experiences: It makes me disappear and I do not know where I am any more, It calms me down and when I feel like running around the room it makes me not do that, Makes me feel real good and I feel like I can be a rock or stone, Makes me feel like I am bathing in the sun, “If people do this, all the wars in the World will end” one girl in K/1 told me when I first introduced the breathing to the class and asked each one of them felt about the experience.

PART TWO: GRADE WISE FEEDBACK

Pre School – 4 years (7 out of 15)

Place of practice: Every day at home, Right after I go to school, In the morning and at night, At bed time deep breathing with mommy

When do I practice and how does it help?: Sometimes I breathe right after I am mad – It helps me by calming me down, When I feel really angry – It is calming, At play time when I am mad – Calms me down, Before dinner – Helps me be patient, When I am upset – Stop crying as much, When I am excited – It helps me by calming down, Bed time – It helps me go to sleep, When I am tired, When I am overwhelmed, Others: It helps me so I can get my books and not lose any of them, Helps me focus, It takes away my cough a little,

KG and Grade 1 (5/ 6 Years) (18 students, 15 of them practice ‘Going into silence’ and 3 of them mentioned ‘breathing’)

All of them practice at the morning meeting and feel these effects:

It is relaxing
It feels nice, I feel calm
It makes me much calmer
It feels calm and good
It calms me down when I feel like running around in the class room, it makes me not do that
It feels good and relaxing
It makes me feel really relaxed
I feel the silence
It makes me feel peaceful
It makes me feel real good like I can be a rock or a stone
It makes me feel like I am bathing in the Sun
It makes me disappear and I don’t know where I am any more

Other practice times and effects

In the morning at my house – I feel relaxed
At my house at night time – It helps me to go to my bed and sleep
At my grandma’s house, sometime in the morning – it makes me feel happy
Sometimes when I am in the bath I close my eyes – It makes me feel like it is the middle of the night and I am fast asleep
When I am going on vacation in the car – It stops me from being car sick
When I am mad
At night time when I get back home
In the car
At home
On the plane when I try to go to sleep – It helps me because I usually get scared – I don’t feel scared any more
Before I go to Tae-Kwon-Do – It makes me do good work
When I have nothing else to do – It feels good
I fall asleep
It makes me feel silent

Grade 2/3 (7/8 years) (17 out of 18)

When do I practice and how it helps me

Morning meeting
– Focused
– Having a good day
– It helps me focus for the rest of the day
– It helps me to calm down
– It helps me concentrate
– It helps relax me
– At school – To survive
– At night when it is hard to get sleep – Keeping bad dreams and sadness away
– Before I go to sleep – It helps me sleep
– Bed time – It calms me down
– Before bed – Calm down
– At home 6.30 am – To survive
– In the shower – I don’t know
– In the shower – Relaxed
– In the shower – To relax
– When I wake up – It helps me complete my day
– When I am waking up – it helps me wake up
– At home after school – Keep awake
– When I am trying to hold in tears
– When feeling yucky – Feel relaxed
– When sad – less sadness and focus

Gr 4/5 (9/10 years) (16 out of 16)

When do I practice and how it helps me

When stressed – Helps me relax
When angry and need to focus – Helps me concentrate better
When I want to sleep – Helps me sleep better
Before bed – Go to sleep
Before bed – I am sleepy
At night – It helps me sleep
At night – Relaxes me
At night – It helps me fall asleep
When I go to sleep – To fall asleep
At night – Get to sleep
Gong to bed – To relax
At night – It helps me calm down
When I go to sleep – It helps me relax and sleep
In school – It calms me down
At school
When I am mad – I am calm
When I am meditating – I am peaceful
When crazy or stressed
It does not really help me that much
When I am in the car – Calms me down
In the car – To concentrate
Sometimes in the bus – Stay calm
On the bus – Relieves stress
It shortens lessons
When I feel like it – It calms me down
When I am out of control – Relax
In the morning

Middle school Gr 6 to 8 (11 to 13 years) (5 out of 33)

When do I practice and how it helps me

When I am bored – It helps me go to sleep
When I have a hard time sleeping – It relaxes me
When stressed – It calms me down
When I am angry – Helps me relax
When I am going to sleep – Helps me shut my mind down
After exercising – helps slow down my heart rate
Some times – Relax
It does not help me

TEACHERS (5 out of 9)

When do I practice and how it helps me?

I breathe every morning before getting out of bed when my mind starts racing. I don’t get up until I’m centered and ready for the day.

At the beginning of morning meeting – Keeps to focus and think about the day ahead of me

When I have difficulty sleeping – Greatly helps put my mind to rest

When I can’t sleep – It still my mind and usually makes sleep come to me

When I am faced with a particularly challenging moment – Helps me to be calm and focus on the issue at hand

Morning meeting – Relaxes me as I prepare for a busy day

Between activities to transition to next task – To be more focused and ready for next learning activity

After lunch – Helps students stay on task

Some students do this at morning meeting or on their own before the meeting

Some students use this technique before a learning activity that is difficult or challenging for them. I have seen students do this on their own to calm themselves or refocus

In the evening – Relaxes me

When I feel stressed – Relaxes me, Calms me and helps me to be more focused

When I need to be more focused – Helps me transition to the next activity

“I truly feel that, what we in the class call “going in your silence” has made a very big difference for the children and Lynn and me. I often watch the children during those times and I can see their whole body relax, their facial expression become calm, and whatever the next activity we have, the children begin it with more focus and calmness. Closing eyes remains a challenge for some children and we continue to work on this piece. For me personally, I find the breathing helps me relax, refocus, brings back my humor and ability to see things around me a bit differently and more clearly-truly helpful in the classroom as well as life.”

Liliana (teaches K/1) said in separate e-mail after I raised some questions on how she has been teaching the ‘going into silence’ practice.

“I try to teach the children that “going into your silence” is not the same as no noise (lack of noise). I tell them that it’s about learning to find the silence inside even if there is lots of noise and distraction around them. We have discussions about what all this means. We practice sitting quietly and keeping the body as still as possible. I teach the children the meaning of the word “stillness” and I teach about stillness. As you can see, I don’t really have a method or technique – what I do is part of who I am, how I teach, the values I want to instill in children, and I try to teach them about peace. I teach about the peace within (in the silence) and how when they are able to find their own peace, they become peace makers. I don’t have a set time – can be a minute to a few minutes – I usually get a feel about how long we should do it.”

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