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Breathing exercises, yoga lead to drop in disruptive behavior at Waukesha school

Posted at 5:08 PM, Feb 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 18:08:41-05

WAUKESHA -- After implementing mindfulness practices into their students' school day last fall, Lowell Elementary School leaders said they have a seen a positive shift in behavior and performance.

The Waukesha school credited the additional exercises for a drop in disruptive behavior.

From breathing exercises to yoga, students learn a variety of ways to take 10 minutes to focus on themselves and reset.

"A hundred percent. We have seen a decrease in the number of behavioral referrals that we have in school. We’ve seen kids that are going home and are problem-solving with their siblings," said Rachel Hermann, Lowell Elementary's Principal.

"We ask them to collaborate every day and to do the best we have to feel safe, and we have to feel like our bodies are ready to learn," said Hermann.

Hermann said in the 2017-2018 school year they had 27 incidents of disruptive behavior. So far, in 2018-2019, they have had nine.

Staff reported since they started teaching the exercises students have been able to read for longer periods of time. They anticipate the positive change will show in the state exams this spring.

Kids said the wide range of tools have helped them.

"I really like yoga it helps me calm down," said second grader Ke'Mari Reed.

"Because if you have one option and it doesn’t really work for you, you wouldn’t have any other way to get you back into the green zone," said second grader Sage Meler.

"Like more calm and relaxed and ready to learn," said fifth grader Mason Fula.

"If I’m taking a test or something. If I’m worried about something from before I can just do the five-finger breathing and just focus on the test," said fifth grader Savanah Shelley.

"Children definitely need resources and skills to manage that stress and relax," said Kristine Jacobs, a therapist for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

"It increases focus, concentration. So being more relaxed in that way I can have a lot of impact on a school day."

Hermann said they plan to continue teaching mindfulness practices.