Rita Murphy Elementary uses mindfulness to refocus students after recess

BISMARCK, N.D. - For many children, recess is the most exciting part of the school day. But how do you get them to re-focus for those last two hours of learning?

Rita Murphy Elementary in Bismarck is using what it calls mindfulness to build positive learning in their classrooms.

Recess. Where kids roam free.

While students know the school bell means it's time to come inside - they don't always know it's time to calm down.

You might be wondering how this teacher got her students to be this calm right after recess. It's part of a mindfulness program.

“I saw a need for it in my students self-regulating themselves when they would have a problem out at recess. And I'm teaching them ways to deal with that and how to calm down themselves,” said second grade teacher Olivia Becker.

It includes several meditative, breathing and sensory exercises - and some problem solving too.

“My favorite one is sending friendly wishes to each other, where we just think silently in our head about different things like I want you to be happy, healthy, safe, and just different positive sentences to each other,” said second-grader Frances Schoepf.

“You fold your arms like this and then you put them up like this and then you just breathe silently and you calm down,” said second-grader Tucker Evans.

As for how many exercises the teachers do with their students, it depends.

“It honestly depends on the day. Closer to Christmas time, a lot more as they're getting antsy or they're overly heightened,” said Becker.

“I think it can really change the culture of a classroom and the culture of a school entirely,” said Christine Job, instructional coach.

If a few minutes of meditating can take a kid from the craziness of the playground to this silent serenity, you might be seeing more children at your local yoga studio.

These exercises help students focus on their studies, learn more easily, and retain information longer.

This year ND United is offering mindfulness classes to teachers at Murphy Elementary.

They hope to learn more techniques that will help their kids be more successful at school.