Bright School is the winner of a $1,000 Yoga Recess Grant after having received the most votes in a Facebook voting competition recently. The grant will help fund yoga programs in the classroom.
"Using young children's natural affinity to yoga, my students have gained a tool for quick serenity and a body of actions and activities that enhance our unity," said Denise Cooper, the first-grade teacher who initiated the grant application through writing a yoga essay. "Yoga is a fun way to integrate things into the classroom. Doing yoga poses before class or yoga breathing helps [students] concentrate. My students love to do yoga. During recess they do their own yoga classes."
The grant will fund a yoga library for teachers at the school, new yoga mats and yoga training for the school's guidance counselor to become a certified children's yoga instructor. In addition, books like "Storytime Yoga," "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids," and "Yoga Bear Yoga for Youngsters" will be be made available to students through the grant.
"Take a deep breath, let's stand and stretch, come to easy sitting position on the carpet, stand up and come to mountain pose," said certified yoga instructor Cooper, reciting phrases she uses during yoga in class. "We'll take a grounding breath before we begin our spelling test."
She said yoga has added a spark to her teaching tools to bring students out of their desks and into a community of learners.
She said moving is huge for children because they are often required to stay still. She said Bright School has physical education class daily and yoga fits in well with the school curriculum.
"We want children to grow into happy, healthy adults," said Cooper. "We are very committed to the development of healthy children and yoga is a perfect fit."
She said yoga in the classroom is a great way to give students practice in the skills of unity, peace, focus and harmony. Cooper said gentle yoga reminders have replaced traditional instructions in her first-grade classroom.
"We are pleased to be the recipients of this wonderful grant," said Kim Brown, Bright School's director of advancement. "In addition to strong academic preparation, Bright School offers elementary school students a multitude of platforms that assist in their development. Yoga is a natural element to incorporate into the elementary school environment and the children benefit immensely."