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Healthy Classroom Environments: Wellness Habits for Students

We’ve all had rough days, and students are no different. Whether they’re navigating a tough day or simply feeling neutral, creating a classroom atmosphere that prioritizes both physical and mental health is crucial.

Emotional well-being is closely linked to academic performance. When students feel emotionally supported and self-aware, they are better equipped to engage in learning activities, focus on tasks, and persist through challenges. Reflective practices in the classroom can contribute to a positive learning environment conducive to academic success. Here are some practical and effective strategies to integrate healthy habits into the classroom routine.

  • Physical Activity: Integrate brief exercise sessions into the classroom routine to help students re-energize and combat the effects of prolonged sitting. Activities like stretching, jumping jacks, sit-ups, or short walks around the school building can invigorate students and release endorphins that alleviate stress and promote happiness. For online instructors, you can – in a live class – have students do many of the exercises mentioned above OR you can leverage a platform like GoNoodle.
  • Reflection Corner: Dedicate a quiet space where students can take a moment to themselves. Decorate it with calming elements like flameless candles, flowers, or soothing scents like lavender. Provide paper and pencils for students to jot down their thoughts, concerns, or fears. Consider including a jar of inspirational quotes or affirmations for students to draw from during their reflection time. If you are teaching online, you can utilize breakout rooms for these activities by leveraging YouTube meditation channels and inspirational shorts.
  • Classical Music: Research shows that classical music offers numerous benefits in the classroom, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, relaxation promotion, and memory improvement. Incorporate classical music into a station or computer workspace, allowing students to listen to it with headphones while working. These same strategies work online as well but remember to select “share sound” on whatever live classroom tool you are using.
  • Journaling Time: Writing in a journal allows students to organize and clarify their thoughts, ideas, and goals. When students have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve or communicate, they can concentrate more effectively on the task at hand, minimizing cognitive distractions and improving focus. Allocate time for journaling either at a designated reflection station, separate workspace, or at students’ desks. Encourage students to express their thoughts and feelings through writing, providing an outlet for self-reflection and emotional processing. These can be handwritten in notebooks or typed using a shareable document.
  • Art Integration: Incorporate art activities such as doodling, abstract art, or coloring into lessons or brain breaks. These activities not only provide incentives for task completion but also promote relaxation and creativity among students, fostering a positive learning environment. Plenty of online coloring tools exist if you google “online coloring tool for kids.” Before using, make sure you are following school and district policies for 3rd party sites.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Dedicate time for students to engage in deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and promote calmness. Whether done individually, with a partner, or as a whole class, deep breathing exercises help students regulate their emotions and focus their attention. These are essential for brain breaks during the day.
  • Inspirational Quotes:  Inspirational quotes convey uplifting messages of encouragement, hope, and positivity. When children encounter these affirming statements, they receive validation and reinforcement of their worth, capabilities, and potential, boosting their self-esteem and confidence. Print out inspirational quotes for students to decorate, color, or keep for reference. Place these quotes in the reflection corner or separate workspace, providing students with uplifting reminders to stay motivated and resilient.

These outlets allow students to express and process their emotions, which can help alleviate distractions caused by emotional turmoil or stress. By acknowledging and addressing their feelings through writing, students can regulate their emotions more effectively, allowing them to focus better on academic tasks.

Implementing wellness habits may require some creativity and flexibility in the classroom schedule, but the benefits far outweigh the logistical challenges. By prioritizing students’ physical and mental well-being, educators empower them to cultivate habits that support their overall health and readiness to learn. Ultimately, teaching students how to care for themselves sets them on a path to lifelong well-being and success.

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