Focusing on different things that bring them happiness – from exercise to napping, listening to music and talking with friends – sixth graders drew images in their journals as part of Lisa DeSanto’s Guidance Seminar class. The activity was designed to help the students relieve stress and encourage them to express themselves.
“It builds self-awareness, and they all get to participate,” DeSanto said. “One of four exploratory classes, the Guidance Seminar class provides a fun, stress-free learning environment for all sixth graders.”
At the beginning of each class, the students complete a journal entry in their notebooks, reflecting on different questions that help them put their thoughts and experiences into words. Some of the questions include “Who is the nicest person you know?” “Should teachers give homework?” “"Describe your favorite childhood toy.” “What is your favorite restaurant or food?” and “If you could develop a TV series, what would it be?” In addition, each class ends with a few minutes of energy yoga that includes mindful movement and fun lyrics.
Throughout the Guidance Seminar class, DeSanto said, the students engage in activities to explore different topics, including stress and how to relieve it; happiness and how to incorporate what makes you happy into your life; gratitude and how being aware of what we’re grateful for can increase positive emotions; friendships and how to foster and maintain friendships; decision-making skills and understanding how your decisions may affect others; self-confidence and practicing positive self-talk; and mindfulness.