S.T.O.P. and Relax: As a Behavioral Intervention for General Education Students

gen ed studentsThe benefits of the S.T.O.P. and Relax yoga curriculum for students with special needs might lead educators to believe that the curriculum is intended only for students in special education. This is not the case – often students in general education have special needs that create stress and are associated with behavioral challenges. During the current (2014-15) school year I provided weekly S.T.O.P. and Relax practice for twelve general education students at an elementary school. During the 2013-14 school year, as I walked by the dean’s office, I would continually see the same students sitting there, in trouble. They had difficulty coping in classroom situations and acted out in anger. I proposed that regular practice using the S.T.O.P. and Relax curriculum would teach the students new skills and hopefully keep them out of the dean’s office. The dean and guidance counselor supported this “experiment” and chose twelve students who exhibited anxiety and/or anger management issues. For nine months, I met with these students once a week for 30-minute sessions. The program has been a lot of fun and a positive experience for the group. When I arrive at 7:30 on Wednesday mornings, the students already are setting up the room. They put out the yoga mats and set up the CD player. Usually one or two students take initiative to escort the younger students in the group. Everyone is gathered and ready on time, seated on the mats, following the visual cue card for the Seated position, shown on the S.T.O.P. and Relax display easel placed on the floor. The students take their group time seriously and do not want to waste it. The half hour goes by quickly, but it is wonderful to see that every child slows down and finds his/her “relaxation zone” during this brief time. At each session, we finish our series of yoga postures by practicing the four-step “S.T.O.P.” self-calming routine. Then we talk for a few minutes. Students often share experiences wherein they used the S.T.O.P. procedure during the week to keep their cool (or wished they had and vow to do so next time!) The dean noted that several teachers have commented that students in the S.T.O.P. and Relax program are coping better when stress occurs. Her computer records, tracking the number of times each student was seen in her office, show that these students are no longer sent to her office due to misbehavior. Indeed, the school year is now drawing to a close, and none of these children have been to the dean for behavior reasons. She and I looked at each other and smiled. What great news! I find these results to be very encouraging and am planning to collect more intensive progress monitoring data next time. Previously, my work with S.T.O.P. and Relax has been limited to instruction of students in special education. I have a great deal of experience using the program in that context, and those experiences have been very positive. For me, a major difference in working with these general education students has been that they are is very verbal and able to articulate how the program is helping them. That has been an extra reward for me, as their discussions guide me to better refine their practice to meet their needs. The endeavor has been a big success. I hope you like it as much as I do.

About Sally Miller, M.Ed.

Sally Miller, M.Ed. has worked with children in preschool and elementary settings since 1975. She moved into Special Education in 1990. Sally is the creator of POCKETS, a learning tool for visual learners.

Comments are closed