Welcome to EMPOWER! We have summarized key information to help you be successful with this innovative suite of lessons and activities.
Background & Approach
EMPOWER is a health and wellness program for elementary school classrooms (K-4) that creatively utilizes student-friendly neuroscience education to help inspire daily movement, mindfulness and social‐emotional learning (SEL) practices.
EMPOWER utilizes a blended learning approach that incorporates the best of video and face-to-face instruction methods and includes peer leading and learning extensions, such as discussion prompts, vocabulary cards and art handouts.
The overall goals of the program are to reduce stress, promote lifelong health and wellness practices and habits, and to support school-wide wellness through participation of both students and staff. Other goals include:
- Improve student nervous system regulation, attention and on-task behavior
- Improve student behavior both in the classroom and outside of school
- Develop leadership abilities and pro-social skills
- Increase student physical activity
- Provide basic brain science education that promotes lifelong health and wellness practices and habits
The program is based on the award‐winning and research‐supported Yoga Calm® curriculum and the program developers’ experience in training over 20,000 teachers, counselors and therapists since 2005. Over the years, these professionals have provided invaluable feedback on their needs and the needs of today’s youth. We hope you find that EMPOWER meets your needs and welcome any feedback and suggestions you have!
Flexible Design to Meet Your Needs
The curriculum is designed to be led with no previous experience by simply playing the instructional videos. In addition, movement and mindfulness activities can also be easily led by teachers and students alike.
We also understand that school and teacher’s needs vary, thus we have created a curriculum with step-by-step instructional scaffolding as well as quick and easy activities and interventions that used à la carte as needs dictate.
EMPOWER Curriculum & Activities
The EMPOWER curriculum is based on the principles of Yoga Calm and consists of core practices and lesson plans that include science videos and follow-along movement/mindfulness activity videos.
The following principles underlie and inform the EMPOWER curriculum:
Stillness helps us to quiet the mind and body; to be self-aware; to develop sensitivity, self-control and self-regulation.
Listening to the heart, mind and body is important for developing self-regulation, imagination, discrimination and self understanding.
Grounding helps us connect to the earth, to be physically present in the body, and to develop a sense of competence and physical safety.
Strength develops capability, confidence and self-esteem. Three kinds of strength are represented: physical, mental and emotional.
Community nurtures the ability to give and receive support, as well as develops compassion, communication skills, and other abilities necessary to live cooperatively with others.
EMPOWER’s core practices are short daily activities (two- to four-minutes) designed to help students develop stress resilience through nervous system regulation practice and social connection. These are designed to be used every day and in response to classroom needs. Core practices are also part of each lesson plan. Mindful Chime and Hoberman Sphere Breathing are initial options, but other core practices can be added or substituted (please refer to the Video Library for other core practices).
EMPOWER’s lesson plans are longer sessions (15- to 30-minutes) that build on the daily core practices, developing science literacy, providing a longer movement session and developing SEL/mindfulness. A complete lesson plan includes the following:
- A core practice (Calming Chime and/or Hoberman Sphere Breathing)
- A science video
- A follow-along video that includes both a movement sequence and a mindfulness and/or relaxation practice
Teachers may also play the science, follow along and relaxation/mindfulness videos separately as time and needs dictate.
Front-loading activities, such as vocabulary cards, and lesson extensions, such as discussion topics, worksheets and drawing exercises, are also available for each lesson.
How to Use the Lesson Plans
15 lesson plans are provided initially with the program, with an additional 5-10 programmed to be added each year. Each complete lesson (with core practice and two videos) can be complete every two weeks
- Ask a student to lead one core practice. Have class provide leader with compliments.
- Play science video and ask follow-up/review questions
- Play follow-along video
- Ask follow-up questions and/or complete provided lesson extensions (time permitting).
- Before next lesson, practice the last follow-along video routine several times (a couple of times a week is recommended or every day as a movement break).
- As students learn the core practices and follow-along routines, ask them to lead the routines, followed by the opportunity to receive compliments from classmates to empower and develop leadership skills.
Once students understand the basic brain science concepts, they can do the supporting physical movement and mindfulness practice videos separately. For example, you might teach the full lesson plan once or twice o Library has these same videos for easy access.
Please note that from an educational point of view, it is not our intention to have students merely memorize specific science concepts, anatomy and vocabulary, but to provide a basic understanding of the interrelationship between heart, mind and body. Our overarching goal is the development of lifelong health and wellness habits that are rooted in a scientific understanding of the human system.
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