When it comes to winning and losing, there are always lessons to be learned throughout life. When you’re in kindergarten, learning to do the “Superman breath” is one of them.
“Fifth-grade students are helping us today to teach the sportsmanship unit,” Doug Sayles, Bayview Elementary kindergarten teacher, said. “The older students are working with the younger kids on playing fair, staying calm, and celebrating your friends when they win. And, yes, they’re learning how to take a Superman breath to calm down when they get frustrated.”
All lessons start out with a full-class discussion and then they break into small groups to practice their skills. The fifth-grade mentors lead the small groups and, after agreeing on the rules of their game, they decide who gets to go first.
“I like how they respect us,” Savannah, one of the fifth-grade mentors said. Her classmate, Ellie, added, “I hope they learn that when they lose, they are not actually losing. It is just another way to have fun. Instead of pouting and saying they hate the game, hopefully they’ll try again.”
“The idea of this program is to have the younger students learn how to interact with one another and to become independent problem solvers,” Roslyn Breyfogle, Bayview school counselor, explained. “In addition, it is our hope that they build friendships and learn emotional regulation skills. When it comes to the older students, we want them to see what a positive impact they can have on the younger students.”
The goal is to have the congenial spirit they learn in class carry over into recess and the rest of their day. The sportsmanship lessons are just part of a larger effort at Bayview to build on their positive school culture. Students also took part in an anti-bullying effort. They held a signing event with their class photo. They pledged to be safe, responsible, kind, and treat everyone with respect. Nobody is invisible and everyone matters.
“I think I’m a good role model for younger students by showing respect for school materials, walking in the halls, and respecting other’s space,” Savannah said with pride.
The exercise seemed to be having an impact on kindergarten students in Mr. Sayles’ class.
“When we feel angry, we need to take a breath. And, if you play the game fair, your friend will ask you to play again,” said one kindergartner from his small group. His classmate spoke up, “I am learning to be kind when playing games and, when I get angry, I need to take a deep breath.”
This kind of work is rewarding for staff when they see these positive behaviors occurring naturally during the school day.
“Since the entire kindergarten is receiving the same message, it allows for all students to have a hands-on experience. It’s a lesson that we hope sticks with them and carries onto first grade and beyond. And then, before too long, these kindergartners will be in fifth grade. Hopefully, they’ll remember what it was like when they were in kindergarten and want to become role models,” Breyfogle concluded.