Teaching Youth Self-Care
Guest Author: Jodi Witte
D833 Grant & Wellness Coordinator
In South Washington County Schools, self-care is being taught alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic. That’s because staff are seeing anxiety levels on the rise, increasing behavioral problems, and other mental-health related issues.
To address these growing needs beyond the traditional social-emotional curriculum, students and staff are practicing breathing techniques, mindful movement and other proven strategies that regulate the body’s nervous system to improve focus, concentration and mental wellbeing. Our students and staff all benefit from a working knowledge of brain and body functioning and how to manage stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions in our fast-paced and interconnected world of digital technology.
At Crestview, YogaCalm is used to teach deep breathing, mindful movement and guided relaxations. Fifth graders are also participating in Be The Boss of Your Stress based on the book by Timothy Culbert M.D. and Rebecca Kajander C.P.N.P. M.P.H. that teaches holistic practices like mindfulness, stress management, sleep hygiene and healthy eating. At Nuevas Fronteras, students and staff are enjoying short brain vacations through guided relaxations from their school social worker. Woodbury Elementary and other schools use on-line programs like GoNoodle and Cosmic Kids Yoga to engage students in physical activity breaks that relax or energize the body, depending on the need.
Woodbury Elementary also utilizes Second Step, a popular curriculum that promotes social and emotional learning. For six years, Red Rock has been implementing many grade level, school-wide and staff initiatives to promote overall wellbeing. From Mindful Movement leaders in 5th grade to brain learning lessons and Calm Corners and Regulation Stations, children and staff are pausing for self-care and developing the skills for emotional wellbeing.
Last year, all middle schools helped to increase awareness and knowledge about anxiety by offering the movie Angst for students and families. Additionally, Youth Service Bureau counselors visited classrooms and talked with teachers and families about mental health and wellbeing.
Park High School promotes Mindful Monday practices on their morning message broadcast and now has a Student Wellness Center. Recently, ERHS offered Super Saturday where students and families learned about college and career planning and wellness. This school year, a Washington County behavioral grant provided funds for 28 teachers to create mindful calming spaces in their classrooms or common areas.
The District’s Employee Wellness program and school activities provide targeted support for teachers and staff too. Presentations on self-care and mindfulness practices by Dr. Henry Emmons, author of the Chemistry of Calm, Sarah Rudell Beach of Brilliant Mindfulness, and Kathy Flaminio of 1000 Petals and YogaCalm are helping staff take better care of themselves so they can be present and healthy to better serve our kids and family.
To find out what your school is doing to help all children develop foundational and life skills for health and wellbeing, contact your main office. Together, we are working to create a culture of health and wellbeing where all children can succeed in school and life.