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Mindfulness in School: Stretching Towards AP Testing

Valley Echo Banner. Jill Caltagirone '18
4 May 2018

Twice a week, Ms. Janine Standish, a licensed therapist and yoga/mindfulness instructor, visits Ms. Jamie Peters’ AP English classes. Looking to expand her program into high schools in the area, Standish instructs students on yoga and meditation, stress-relieving coloring exercises, team-building exercises, and breathing techniques. Peters and Standish hope for these sessions to create healthy coping mechanisms during a very eventful and stressful period for students as AP testing commences.AP English class during coloring exercises. photo credit: Peters

Hoping to slow down students' fast-paced world, meditation, yoga and coloring are just some of the ways to decrease anxiety and release stress. The in-class sessions do not necessarily have a set schedule or routine, but there are some basic activities: yoga, meditation to focus on breathing, team-building exercises and games, and coloring.

“I wasn’t the greatest at the coloring, because I didn’t have the patience for it,” Zarifa Akbary ‘18, a student in the AP English class joked. “She [Standish] said I should actually try coloring and doing yoga on my own, because I am so busy and anxious for my upcoming tests.”

Standish reiterates this idea in her overview of the program. “These interactive activities are designed to increase focus and attention, energize their bodies and brains, provide grounding, and decrease anxiety," she said. "This comprehensive program commences with specific prep plans for the night before and tips for exam day success.”

“I have certainly relaxed from this,” Taylor Scarpa ‘18, one of Peters’ AP English students shares, “It’s very nice to switch off from preparing for tests and focus on something fun for a few days, especially with the [AP] test only one week away [at the time of the interview]!”AP English class during meditation exercises. photo credit: Peters

Scarpa recalled an earlier session when the class played a game where each student had to say their name, then do a different yoga pose. At another session, the class practiced meditation for several minutes. “It’s nice that for 45 minutes a day, my fellow classmates and myself get to take a step back and focus on relaxing,” Akbary added.

“I do recommend for more students and for more classes to take a step back and focus on their own health,” Akbary admitted. “It helps the student as an individual, but also the class as a whole. It completely changed the atmosphere to a more positive, relaxed standpoint.”