SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Program Featured in Hospital Assoc. of Southern CA News

Smiling Calm Hearts Open Our Learning, Inc. (SCHOOL, Inc.) is featured as a main contributor to the Trauma-Informed Care Initiative currently being implemented in Pasadena, CA.

The article entitled, How Trauma-Informed Care is Helping the Pasadena Community was written by Karen Ochoa, Project Manager for Communities Lifting Communities.

SCHOOL, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, CA. Approximately 546 Pasadena Unified School District teachers from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade are currently being trained how to use the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Program in their classrooms. Additional services personnel will also join the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Trainings in order that nurses, counselors and other support staff learn mindfulness methods to help youth navigate education proactively and in greater health. Kelly Wood, founder and lead teacher of SCHOOL, Inc. will provide tools, strategies and evidence-based mindfulness techniques. This secular yoga mindfulness program enhances the learning potential for students and classroom management techniques for teachers. The SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness approach builds positive qualities in youth and educators that promote pro-social, inclusive learning communities.

Learn More by visiting the SCHOOL, Inc. website – https://school-yoga.org/

Read full article – https://communities.hasc.org/post/how-trauma-informed-care-helping-pasadena-community

Expert SCHOOL Kids Yoga Teacher, Kelly Wood, interview – Arroyo Magazine

There are a growing number of caring people learning how to teach Kids Yoga today.  It is of utmost importance that yoga and meditation be taught in a manner that aligns with academics and improved learning.  In others words, you need training and years of experience to translate contemplative methods in accessible ways that influence positive behavior.  

I began teaching Kids Yoga in my studio (Karuna Yoga) as well as in Los Angeles Unified School District classrooms in 2002.  Due to more than 10,000 hours of teaching and training others, I have an expertise in teaching children not only the methods of yoga and meditation but just as importantly, the reasons for practicing in daily living.  Perhaps master teacher is another way to state expertise here.  Also from extensive experience, the SCHOOL Kids Yoga methods meet Common Core State Standards.

My professional development course, SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training, uses language and specific methods that I created from direct experience from working with children and adults in secular settings.  From the personal stories shared by children and teachers on how they use the SCHOOL Kids Yoga calming methods regularly and how they are able to positively self-regulate, I know that the SCHOOL Kids Yoga teachings make sense in terms of navigating daily living in more constructive ways.  Increased pause, focus, and gentleness are crucial skills for success in today’s learning environments.  These qualities not only build cognition for improved academics, but also build character for kind and caring relationships in school and in life.  Instead of increased mental and emotional disturbances, let us implement preventive practices for mindful, good-hearted youth who will be our future leaders

Please enjoy the article and pass it along to teachers, parents and foundations.

SCHOOL KIDS YOGA & MINDFULNESS AND COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

The Common Core State Standards provide benchmarks for learning by grade level, K-12. Teachers understandably like to have some level of freedom in how they deliver subject matter to students as their creativity and improvisation have the ability to heighten motivation to learn. Many teachers these days are finding the balance between meeting Common Core State Standards and bringing their unique teaching skills into the classroom. In simple terms, it seems to me that this balance is between structure and organic free flow. As we so often know, moment-to-moment balance between structure and play is key for classroom success both academically and socially speaking. We teachers strive again and again to hone our teaching proficiency by reviewing the day’s events in the classroom, weighing what appeared to help and what appeared to hamper students’ participation and subject matter comprehension. Refreshing our perspective is very much a necessity to learn and grow as an educator, to bring the dignity of teaching forward and the enthusiasm to learn alive.

I created the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training as a new tool to gather the whole classroom of learners on equal ground with everyone’s equal participation and equal value to the group. Likewise, each member of the class learns the responsibility to contribute constructively and respectively to the overall harmony with peers and the teacher. Bringing secular yoga into public school classrooms in 2002 (the year I began the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness program) was definitely a new and creative experience for myself, students and teachers. Over these last 15 years, I have paid careful and close attention to the needs and concerns of teachers and their commitment to successfully impart learning to students. I have fine-tuned SCHOOL Kids Yoga to make sense to Common Core State Standards while engaging classroom communities with new tools and in innovative ways.

One way School Kids Yoga & Mindfulness supports the Common Core State Standards is by teaching aspects of English Language Arts, including Speaking and Listening standards such as the following:

ELA SL 1.1A – Follow agreed upon rules for discussion

ELA SL 1.1B – Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to thecomments of others through multiple exchanges

ELA SL 1.1C – Ask questions for clarification

ELA SL 1.2 – Ask and answer questions about key details in information presented orally

ELA SL 1.3 – Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says

ELA SL 1.4 – Describe people, places, things, and events with detail

ELA SL 1.5 – Add visual displays to descriptions to clarify ideas

ELA SL 1.6 – Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task

Los Angeles Unified School District teachers who have taken the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training have commented on how they experience SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness as aligned with CCSS:

“In general, the standards are supported by the SCHOOL Kids Yoga practice by allowing tools for listening to peers, teacher, and constructive critique. It helps introduce academic and social skills vocabulary, make connections to stories, life experiences, and learning to speak with pace, expression, and intonation. In addition, students learn metacognition, developing memory, self-reflection, perseverance, and determination through focus and grounding.” – Mary G.

“School Kids Yoga supports the Common Core Standards by meeting state health and physical education requirements. In addition, the SCHOOL Kids Yoga methods address ELA standards for speaking and listening (e.g., applying rules for discussion, building on discussion, and asking and answering questions to clarify, ascertain key details, gather additional information, and provide descriptive detail). Furthermore, SCHOOL Kids Yoga supports learning of academic content through the use of models, verbal and visual aids.” – Vivian Z.

“School Kids Yoga supports the Common Core by providing opportunities to listen and discuss various topics respectfully. Through the program, students practice and learn skill such as listening attentively to a speaker or story, reflecting on information, and practicing how to ask thoughtful or clarifying questions. They are able to respond to questions and use strategies to discuss or share opinions with peers. The SCHOOL Kids Yoga program also supports overall academic success by teaching students how to calm their bodies, minds, and hearts to reduce anxiety during testing or presentations, as well as improving their ability to focus and retain information for longer periods of time, which promotes academic success.” – Vanessa G

I created the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training to give teachers tools to not only improve focus in students and teach Common Core State Standards, but also to provide a means for teachers to gather themselves in the moment and refresh perspective. We teachers know the importance of maintaining grace and equilibrium – so often challenged in our diverse interactions with students. When teachers have practical tools to ground and gather themselves within the dynamic waves of energy and experience in the classroom setting, they are better able to find the balance between teaching the benchmarks of the Common Core Standards with a fresh perspective that invites their creativity and enthusiasm. Naturally, students pick-up on a teacher’s warm engagement and thus, are drawn in to learn more. And this ability to navigate amidst our routines and the unknowns of life bring acalm sensibility that needs to be nurtured in our classrooms and communities throughout life.

Kids Yoga & Mindfulness in Public Schools – Our Hearts are a Gift

Today’s teaching schedule included seven Kids Yoga classes in three different schools. As I walked into the sixth class, the second graders were scampering to follow their wonderful public school teacher’s instructions to close their books, put pencils onto the top of their notebooks, push in their chairs, and make their way to the rug for our SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness class. I walk by children moving here and there, and notice one girl nervously holding something small wrapped within the hem of her shirt. Her eyes indicate a humble knowing of some sort. Being used to seeing various items in children’s hands like paper clips, toys, rubber bands, headbands and more, I make a mental note that if the fidgeting hands continue once class starts, I will ask her to place the mystery item away at her desk so that she can give her full attention to our mindfulness class.

As usual, I’ve placed my mat at the front of the room, the piano music is playing on my little speaker to signal the start of our SCHOOL Yoga & Mindfulness class. I sit tall on the mat with hands interlaced and with a smile. Just as I am about to say, “Good afternoon, class.” this little girl with the mystery item says, “Miss Kelly, I want to give this to you.” She fumbles and unwraps a plastic heart heart and hands it to me with a simple sweet look on her face. I am moved that she has made the choice to present this heartfelt gift to me. I gently say, “For me?” and she nods in agreement. I then say thank you wholeheartedly and share that she has offered the red heart to me with the group.

I believe that every child has the potential to develop self-regulation skills and I hold high standards that their mindful or heartful self-direction is within their reach. If I can learn how to practice self-discipline and emotional/mental regulation, then they can as well. I simply have forty years of living ahead of these amazing children, pursuing the path of self-reliance. Constructive self-reliance is one of the most important skills we can teach our children. The SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes include positive self-reliance at its core.

Our hearts beat everyday with diligence. The heart does not take Friday off or decide to beat only if it gets everything it wants right away. One of the main reasons the heart is the central theme of our SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness program is that the consistency the heart provides speaks volumes of the potential we all have for developing consistent kind qualities, if we engage in practices or methods that remind us of our basic goodness. A calm heart is a good place from which to act or pause with kindness. Our hearts are gifts for ourselves and for others.

This second grade girl will never know the full impact of her heartful gesture of giving. Tears repeatedly come to my eyes thinking of the goodness of this child and the motivation to act on this goodness. The children teach me and I am humbled in each class. We teachers repeat and repeat and keep the faith that the seeds we are planting will ripen and grow within our children. Today’s heartfelt gift has planted a seed of inspiration within me that I will always cherish. Thank you, Kimberly. 😉

Calm Hearts Help Others – Kids Yoga with Purpose

SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness weekly classes are more than just postures. If I wanted to teach postures, the classes would need to be entitled playful stretching, creative movement or something along those lines. If one teaches yoga, there are several limbs of the practice that must be included and the cohesiveness understood between the various limbs. A yoga teacher, whether for adults or for children, must help students understand how and why to practice. To dispel the many misperceptions around yoga and meditation, an experienced teacher must relay the different facets of the practice in a relatable manner. From teaching thousands of children over more than 14 years, I know that a calm heart speaks universally to kids, no matter the socio-economic background. A calm heart also speaks universally to adults.

heart crystalSmilingHeart

 

Philosophy is an important aspect of yoga. Without cultivating our discernment of what is helpful and what is destructive about our behavior, we simply stretch and then leave the yoga mat only to continue our unmindful habits of impatience, self-centeredness and the like. SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes, occurring weekly in public schools always include relevant and real life stories of how our motivation of heartfulness helps bring more calm and ease to ourselves and others.

I teach the inner city children who live in the downtown Los Angeles area. They live simply. One can imagine the crowded apartment settings with ongoing noise and quest for survival. During the precious 20-minutes I am allowed to spend with these children each week, my own heart is uplifted and humbled by their responses and participation. When I ask, “Who are we going to help?” within the imaginative elements of our yoga class, they say, “The less fortunate, the homeless.” The strength of heart these children naturally embody must be drawn out and encouraged. They live in conditions that so many would classify as less fortunate, and yet, they are noticing those around them that have even less. Our SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes give these wonderful young citizens of Los Angeles the means to think about others while moving and breathing to contribute to the neutral connections within their brains. In short, our SCHOOL classes help to integrate the physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of children which cannot be achieved through posture alone.

Calm Hearts Appeal to Children

I just finished teaching three of the eight SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes for today. Going into public schools for over 13 years and teaching to elementary aged children has provided quite a wealth of experience. It is safe to say that the approach I take with these amazing inner city kids works. The essence of the practice, the reason to practice, the motivation to practice is to have a calm heart. Pretty simple and yet, disappears from our mindfulness so many times each day with life’s business and demands.

Here are a few of the responses from 2nd graders on how they have been using their practice:

“I had to get a shot at the doctor and I used my calm breathing.”
“I played with my sister with a calm heart.”
“I used my calm breathing while taking a test.”
“I said Our Hearts Are Calm Today when I had the hiccups.”
“I helped my brother to breathe calmly when he was mad.”
“I couldn’t read something very good so I used my calm breathing and had a calm heart.”

And of course, we need to have a calm heart for:
“I went to the fair and rode a roller coaster and used my calm breathing to keep my heart calm.”

Life is much like a roller coaster, yes? It is quite challenging to teach Kids Yoga and well worth every moment. If one has been teaching as long as I have, the cutesy and idealistic honeymoon phase of teaching Kids Yoga is behind us. We work with the dynamic of the classroom, the children, and the environemnt to demonstrate by our own presence and behavior the essence of a calm heart. Going into public schools and teaching more than 25 children in each class and seeing more than 1,000 children on a weekly basis has indeed been challenging and simultaneously, the most rewarding work I have encountered. Life’s ups and downs are much more manageable with a calm heart.
SCHOOL Yoga