Head Start, Phoenix Center teaches kids to slow down

Contributed/Children practice relaxation techniques during the "Yoga Storytime, Relaxation & Coping Skills" class, which is a partnership between Marble Falls Head Start and the Phoenix Center.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

It’s a fast-paced, digital world, and it can be hard for anyone to slow down, but for children it’s even more critical. Groups of three-year-old children have been benefitting since the fall of last year from a partnership between Marble Falls Head Start and the Phoenix Center: a 20-minute classes in mindfulness meditation called: “Head Start Yoga Storytime, Relaxation & Coping Skills."
The weekly classes at Marble Falls Elementary are led by a children’s therapist from the Phoenix Center, Erin Givarz, who is trained in yoga and meditation.

“The group provides fun, age-appropriate relaxation skills especially created for toddlers,” Givarz explained. A typical class includes rhythmic songs, age-appropriate yoga poses, storytelling, breathing exercises, warm-up activities, positive affirmations, aromatherapy, and short, guided imagery “relaxation” stories.

It has not been difficult to keep the 30 toddlers coming back.

“I like yoga because I like to be a bumble bee,” said a three-year-old Head Start student, who was referring to “Bumble Bee Breath,” one of the calming exercises emphasizing belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

“Students are prompted to pick up an imaginary flower, smell it in deeply, and buzz around their mat to release the breath,” Givarz said.

Since the pilot program, “Head Start teachers reported improved behavior in students who participated in the program,” Givarz said.  

For more on the program, see The Highlander on Friday, March 11. 

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Currently the intervention is being provided to two Marble Falls Head Start classrooms. However, another “Yoga Storytime, Relaxation & Coping Skills” afterschool group is being provided at the Phoenix Center free of cost for children ages 4-7 (or up to second grade) on Monday afternoons.

For information on how to register, email Erin Givarz at erin@phoenixcenter.org. For additional information on the Phoenix Center and its services, visit www.phoenixcentertexas.org. For more information about Head Start programs, visit www.opportunitiesforwbc.org/head-start.  

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