Alfiya Shaikh is a Grade 9 student from Akanksha’s Matoshri English Medium School in Pune. Not long ago, Alfiya struggled with anger; getting irritated frequently, often over the smallest of things. Overwhelmed by her emotions, there were times when Alfiya refused to eat, the only way known to her to deal with the day’s frustrations.
Today, Alfiya is but a shadow of her former self. A happy and self-assured child, Alfiya has learnt how to manage her anger, cope with difficult emotions, and channel her anxiety in productive ways.
Sakib Sayyed is a student from Acharya Vinoba Bhave School Municipal School, Pune. Like many, he too was once a restless child; failing to pay attention in class and unable to focus on his studies. Often unmotivated and lethargic, Sakib never really liked daily school.
Today, Sakib is an attentive and engaged student who actively participates in class discussions. Gone are the listless days, Sakib now enjoys school absolutely stress-free!
Just like Alfiya and Sakib, there are 9800 Akanksha students who have experienced this transformative journey. What changed for them you ask?
Well, it’s all thanks to Socio-Emotional & Ethical Learning (SEE), a creative and pragmatic learning tool aimed at providing socio-emotional support while honing fundamental skills developed by Emory University in partnership with the Dalai Lama Trust. Currently, all 21 Akanksha schools employ SEE practices as part of their daily timetable where practices include:
- Quality circle time for students
- Check-in grounding/mindfulness activities before class each day
- Yoga and meditation practices
- And many more!
SEE learning does not end at Akanksha students, it’s a practice well-inculcated in the daily routine of our parents and teachers. Not only do our counsellors facilitate SEE activities in the classroom, but also practice these exercises for their personal peace of mind and overall well-being. Urbi Saha, a teacher at Acharya Vinoba Bhave Municipal School, Pune talks about her experience with the ‘mood-box’ exercise, a self-compassion ritual that changed her life for good. Where previously she suppressed her negative motions such as anxiety and anger, Urbi now turns to her mood-box, a corner of the room featuring books, soft toys, scented candles and a coffee mug to relax and overcome any emotional turmoil.
“Before I started the practice, I used to get irritated , anxious , angry and suppress the emotions without actually releasing it…But now, when I feel overwhelmed or any other such emotions, I use my mood box. ..It helps me be calm, composed and patiently look at things with different perspectives. As an impact it increased my patience, tolerance and persistence. Due to these I had certain breakthroughs in the classroom, like convincing children to listen to me and conduct classes with less breakdowns,” adds Urbi.
For Saba , a teacher from Wadibunder Mumbai Public School, SEE practices have not only helped improve her mental health, but have also freed her of chronic physical ailments which are often associated with stress and anxiety. By focusing on the little joys of the present, Saba has made self-love and self-care her new life mantra.
“Before I used to have acid reflux issues, disturbed sleep patterns, my sleep was never relaxing. Now it’s much better. A grounding activity that I follow is one where every night before sleeping, I play relaxing music, drink some warm water and sit in a comfortable position, secluded from the chaos of the house. I focus on the notes of the music and just put my thoughts together and enjoy what’s in the moment. When I get up in the morning, I feel more relaxed and organised! I am stress-free and interact better with my family and more positive in my outlook,” says Saba on the impact that SEE has had on her personal health.
The soothing and stabilizing energy created by SEE practices is widely-experienced by our parent community as well. These Akanksha partners use breathing and meditation exercises to motivate their children to learn better as well as manage their own emotions.
Parents of Aaiman Shaikh from Late Anantrao Pawar Memorial English Medium School provide a strong case for the powerful impact of SEE learning practices,
“ Thanks to these exercises, I am now more mindful of my surroundings and actions. Where before I was unable to concentrate on multiple things, now I make sure that I focus on the one single task at hand, whether that be talking, walking or eating without worrying about the next thing to be done. Practices like mindful listening have shown me what kindness can do for one’s good health. I have noticed that I am more conscious of my moods and try my best to stay in the ‘ok zone’ to keep my mind and body happy and stress-free. I can see the same change in my child’s behaviour as well, SEE is very helpful in managing anger.”
Zainab and Amina Shaikh’s mother, a proud parent from D.N. Nagar Mumbai School has found SEE to be a fun and caring medium, providing a platform to grow closer to her children.
“ In SEE learning, we all sit together, hold each other’s hand and hug each other to express our support and care for one another. As part of the exercise, we play games. I play the games of my childhood, with my kids, transferring that experience to them as well. It almost feels like I’m a child again! Before, I was too busy with household chores, now I actually spend quality time with my children, and we exchange our thoughts and feelings making our bond even stronger.”
Socio-emotional & Ethical (SEE) Learning has been a powerful grounding tool for the Akanksha family, providing support and psychological safety to our students, their families and staff in times of crisis and anxiety. Going forward, we hope to share the myriad ways in which all 21 Akanksha schools interpret these exercises creatively, in the hope of creating enabling environments for each and every child to grow!