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Beech Grove City Schools use new approach to help student’s social, emotional needs

BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) — One central Indiana school district is taking a new approach to helping elementary students who have anxiety, depression and other social and emotional needs.

A Beech Grove City Schools elementary school has created a mindful  moment room. It is at Central Elementary in an old computer lab.

Inside the room are books, music, activities for kids to understand their feelings and much more.

Teachers can refer students to the room if they see that they are stressed or having emotional issues.

When they get there, a counselor will be in the room and will instruct them to take deep breaths and choose an activity that will help calm them down. The student will then talk about what they’re feeling, what choices they made and what they can do differently next time.

Trudi Wolfe, the counselor running the room, says one of the battles they have as educators is that kids who have dealt with difficult situations have a brain structure that impacts their ability to learn.

Wolfe says the part of the brain that alerts us to danger and has to go into fight, flight or freeze mode is always on for kids who live with adversity. And when it’s turned on, she says information does not reach the part of the brain where learning takes place. She says the things the kids do in the mindful moment room calm that part of the brain.

“It’s gonna make a huge difference in our school, huge, huge, huge. I can’t say that enough because it’s not traditional discipline. It’s helping children learn how to manage their emotions and that will help them be more successful at school and in their future,” she said.

The school says they had to do something to address kids coming to school in crisis. They say many kids are dealing with depression and anxiety and that every year there are elementary school students who think about committing suicide.

This mindful moment room all started with a school counselor, but Central Elementary’s principal jumped right on board, and he says other schools should consider it, too.

“I would encourage everyone to really look at what the social-emotional needs are. We can’t address the academic pieces unless we have addressed kind of their basic needs,” Craig Buckler said.

As part of this, at the start of every school day, teachers have morning meetings with their students getting to know them, taking about their feelings and personal issues.

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