WELCOME TO THE CALMING CORNER AT SAYVILLE MIDDLE SCHOOL
In a culture that is barraged by information overload, practicing Mindfulness for improving wellness in children has recently taken an upswing in curriculum and extracurricular practices. Although this awareness is more popular now, Sayville Middle School Health Teacher Jodi Maurici has been on the vanguard of exploring stress-relief activities for her students for many years. This year, she has enhanced her Mindfulness programs and activities with a new spin by providing her students an oasis of peace. The following article describes her latest project.
Mrs. Maurici’s Calming Corner
by Jodie Maurici
During the 2017-18 school year, I introduced the concepts of The Growth Mindset and Mindfulness practice into our existing Seventh-grade health program. It was so well received by the students and the community, that this past summer, I was afforded the opportunity to create the Social-Emotional Learning curriculum for the district to meet the new State Mandates and regulations. Through this rewarding project, I was inspired to delve further into researching what our students needed for Social-Emotional success. What I kept seeing over and over was that our students were experiencing an exponential increase in anxiety and depression and I wanted to see where the correlation lay. Repeatedly I had seen that psychologists were correlating these issues both with the lack of unstructured play, creative expression and problem solving and with the decrease in verbal communication and social activity (due to technology and structured events.
In response to my students’ requests, I have created a very welcoming “Calming Corner” complete with carpet, bean-bag chairs, calming bottles, coloring books, pillows, and items used for Sensory Input to calm the child’s nervous system, allowing them to relax and focus. During my research, I also read many articles regarding the importance of play in Social-Emotional Development and problem solving so I decided to take my calming corner a step further.
This corner has now grown to contain a Play Corner to also assist students with problem solving, communication skills and creative expression. It contains a variety of board games, puzzles, Hoberman Spheres, Whodunnit and Would You Rather Books, Brain Games, Yoga Cards, and Mindful Activity cards. I am confident that this niche will continue to grow to meet the children’s needs.
Any given day during eleventh period, you will find Room 102 filled with children enjoying salsa dancing lessons, working on puzzles, coloring, playing board games or simply just relaxing before they start their afterschool chaos. There is nothing more rewarding than to witness these students interacting, communicating, thinking out of the box, and coming out of their comfort zones...all with smiles on their faces and their genuine appreciation for this sanctuary.
Quotes About the Calming Corner from Mrs. Maurici’s Student:
- I never thought I would be able to learn Salsa but it turns out I am really good. -Leah Vanderborgh
- Salsa dancing gets my mind off all of the stress of school and many other activities. -Olivia Gerena
- I never thought that I would be able to salsa but it is so much fun! -Elise Marino
- I never thought it could be so peaceful in the “Calming Corner”. It is because there is no technology. -Danny Sullivan
- The “Calming Corner” is the absolute perfect name for the corner in Mrs. Maurici’s room.-James Eriksen
- The “Calming Corner” is the best part of my day! -Thomas Eichele
- I think the “Calming Corner” is great and I love the idea of it! -Zach Watson
- I think the “Calming Corner” is a great idea because everyone gets to chill while reading or sitting. -Nick Cook-Coleman