MADISON TWP. — Madison Elementary School students are participating in a program to help them build social-emotional skills to help them make positive choices when faced with negative situations.
Move This World is a social-emotional program “we use to deliver those skills to our students,” Madison Upper Elementary Principal Nate Pechaitis said.
This is the first year the school district has used Move This World, and while it is too early to finalize official statistics on its effectiveness, Pechaitis said on the surface, he is seeing “positive results” with the rubric.
Madison Elementary School officials recently applied for a grant aimed at integrating health and wellness initiatives into the school. Those initiatives included nutrition, physical activity and social-emotional learning for elementary students.
“We wanted to provide a program that really helps kids focus through a series of daily videos, getting them up and moving, and focusing on mindfulness and emotional regulation,” Pechaitis said.
And that is where Move This World comes into play.
Move This World provides multimedia content for districts, schools and teachers to develop social skills and strengthen emotional intelligence. The program is hosted on Move This World’s online platform.
The Young 5s through fifth grade — approximately 860 students — twice a day participate in interactive videos that are geared toward their ages and teach relaxation techniques to help kids process behavioral or emotional needs, Pechaitis said.
“At face value, we’ve had students who are becoming aware of their emotions and developing strategies to do better,” Pechaitis said. “We are using language skills and small groups to intervene as necessary, and we’ll examine all the data at the end of the school year to assess and see how to proceed next year.”
Vivienne McGormley, a Madison third-grader, said she likes the two-session program that allows students to deal with emotions they bring to school with them in the morning, and to address emotions that build during the day.
“I like how it gives us morning and afternoon so that it’s not just in the morning or afternoon,” she said. “It gives us a chance to release stress twice, and the music helps calm me down.”
What are some of the strategies she learns?
“Be patient in class, just don’t blurt out answers,” she said. “We also learn exercises like breathing five times or taking a glass of water. We use those strategies when we’re angry, sad or have any emotion we recognize. It helps us be successful.”
Her classmate, Franklin Pechaitis, said he likes the games the program offers for them to play to address emotions and social barriers.
“It helps with my impulses,” he said. “Say, my teacher is asking questions. I can think about it instead of blurting it out.”
Franklin Pechaitis, who is also the principal’s son, said his classmates practicing patience and mindfulness and waiting to be called upon to answer a teacher’s question can help reduce the feeling of chaos in the classroom.
“I like doing embodied relaxation,” he said. “It calms me down. We take breaths and movements and turn on a relaxing song.”
Franklin Pechaitis said one of the other strategies he likes is an initiative that encourages students to listen to the breathing of others.
“When you can hear how someone is breathing, you can tell how someone is feeling, and you can help them feel calm,” he said. “Some kids don’t have a good place at home and it can help calm them. A lot of kids that don’t have a good home have stress.”
McGormley said she can use the skills she is learning through Move This World anywhere.
“I can use them at home, and can help others anywhere and help them be successful,” McGormley said. “If I see someone who is having a hard time, I can go help calm them so they don’t hurt themselves or others.”
Franklin Pechaitis said it is important to react properly when others are struggling.
“If they’re mad and you’re mean to them, it puts more stress into the situation,” he said.
Nate Pechaitis said the students benefit from Move This World in several ways.
“It teaches self-awareness, to be mindful of others, controlling your own emotions through emotional regulation, social awareness and being aware of others’ emotions and how your actions impact others, and responsible decision-making and happiness.”
Next year, he said, the students will use a new set of videos.
“It builds from Young 5s on up through the elementary,” he said.
Madison School District is the only Lenawee County school this year participating in Move This World, according to the organization. Other regional school districts participating include Brooklyn’s Columbia School District and Western School District, both in Jackson County.
This article was originally posted by the Daily Telegram on June 16, 2019.
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