Wyoming students using mindfulness techniques to reduce test anxiety

Mindful classrooms

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - M-Step testing is wrapping up for West Michigan students and if your children was involved in taking them you may have experienced a few stressful nights before test day.

But one West Michigan school is trying to help students breathe through their test anxiety.

It's M-Step test day for Godfrey Lee students, but it isn't stressing out the 5th graders -- because they've been practicing a technique called mindfulness.

Twice a week for six weeks, Amber Kilpatrick of the Mindful Vinyasa School of Yoga visits Godfrey Lee elementary to teach students techniques designed to help them stay calm and relaxed even when they feel stressed. "This technique is called square breathing," Kilpatrick explained. "You can see yourself drawing a big square with every breath, so the breath in was up and then over and then in and then over."

Kilpatrick says the mindfulness techniques give students tools to use not just during testing, but in everyday life, "We're teaching you how to pay attention on purpose in a way that's kind and gentle."

It's something Godfrey Lee Principal Andy Steketee says he is noticing. "I see students doing it even in the lunchroom where it can be loud and crazy."

Steketee says he intentionally scheduled the mindfulness lessons during the M-Step to help with the stress, but it's an even bigger impact.

"More relaxed, more self-regulating so less conflict in the classroom and out on the playground all that combined leads to a better atmosphere," he said.

The mindfulness classes are funded through grant money, fund raisers and donors.

Godfrey Lee hopes to be able to continue the classes in the fall.

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