Using Essential Oils in the Classroom (Guest Post #1)

I’ve heard a lot about essential oils lately. I’ve been interested in learning about their application in the classroom, so I reached out to a friend of mine who is very knowledgeable and experienced in using oils. (If you’re familiar with Young Living Essential Oils, you’ll know my friend by the name Lucy Libido. She’s written essential oils books for women and babies/kids) She connected me with a few teachers who use oils in the classroom. They have agreed to share their experiences with oils in a few guest posts. So here’s the first post about oils, written by high school teacher, Tamera. Click here to get started with your own oils kit!

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard the buzz about essential oils. What are they? How can I use them? Do they really work to support my health? For educators like me, I wanted to know how I could use oils to support my students’ learning and possibly alleviate toxic stress. This began my research into how essential oils support students who have experienced trauma. I spent a lot of time researching just a few single oils to use daily.

Morning: Lemon and Peppermint combined is a great “pick-me-up.” Many students reported that they felt more alert and they loved how good my classroom smelled. It wasn’t uncommon for my students come back to my classroom throughout the day just to sit and breathe, enjoying whatever was in the diffuser.

Afternoon: My students and I engaged in frequent guided meditation. During the 13 minute meditation, I used lavender in the diffuser and their mood and focus changed dramatically. There were weeks where sometimes I’d forget, but my students were quick to remind me, “Miyasato! Where’s our meditation?” They’d even remind me if I forgot to fill the diffuser.

Studying/Test-Taking: Another oil that I found useful in my classroom was rosemary. We diffused it when we were preparing for tests and because scent is tied to memory, I was sure to diffuse it on testing days, as well. While I didn’t collect data on whether it helped improve scores, it definitely supported my students’ focus and concentration.

Disinfecting: Finally, I was never without my bottle of Thieves Cleaner to clean desks and chalk boards. The day janitor used a popular brand of disinfectant down the halls, but we kept our door closed when she came around. Yuck! My students loved the smell of the Thieves and I felt confident letting them help me clean because I knew that it was safe for them to handle.

Administrative Support: I was grateful that I was able to integrate essential oils into my classroom routines to support my students. However, not all schools will allow teachers to use them. So I have to stress the importance of administration approval. I was lucky that my administration was already supportive and open to new ways to support our high-needs school. In fact, after observing the positive changes in my classroom, I provided our principal with information about using the right oils and how they are used to support many body functions. He was so intrigued that he hired an aromatherapist to come in and provide professional learning for our whole staff!

If you are interested in trying them, I strongly encourage you to look into existing policy to make sure that your school does not prohibit the use of essential oils. If no such policy exists, request a meeting and be armed with research! The important thing to note is the quality of the oils, because not all essential oils are created equal.

Happy oiling!

About the Guest Blogger

Tamera Miyasato is a Learning Specialist with Technology & Innovation in Education in South Dakota where her work is focused on cultural proficiency, Oceti Sakowin language and culture, and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). She was formerly a secondary ELA teacher at Pine Ridge High School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where she grew up. She currently lives in Rapid City, SD with her husband, son and two cats.

Note: Content on this blog is not intended as medical advice.

Advertisements

How Much Outside Time Do Kids Really Need?

Here’s a great article I found on Summer Nanny (a website that assists nannies in finding summer nanny jobs):

outsideplayThe influx of electronic entertainment that seems to be taking over the modern household paired with unprecedented levels of parental fear have created a generation of kids that spend far less time enjoying the great outdoors than their predecessors. The resultant sedentary lifestyle that’s become the norm for many kids can lead to childhood obesity and related health risks, including diabetes and high blood pressure. What’s a parent to do when they’re not sure how much time outside is enough? This handy guide will help you get a basic idea of how much time your child should be spending outside and what her body needs to grow and stay in good shape, all while maintaining her safety and security.

Toddlers

According to research cited by KidsHealth.org, toddlers between the ages of 12 and 36 months of age should be spending at least 30 minutes of their day engaging in structured, adult led physical activity and a full hour of unstructured play each day. It’s also advised that a toddler never spend more than an hour at a time being inactive unless they’re sleeping. When the weather permits, spending your 30 minutes of structured play outside is wise, since kids so young probably shouldn’t be outside unsupervised. Just be sure that you apply sunscreen liberally before heading out the door, because toddlers’ sensitive skin can burn quickly. If you’re heading out for a day at the park, try to head home before your little one becomes so exhausted that she’s miserable and cranky.

Preschoolers

By the time your child reaches the preschooler stage, between three and five years of age, she’s ready for a bit more independence. As long as they’re being supervised and are adequately protected with sunscreen, kids can spend a few hours at a time enjoying the great outdoors. Just be sure that they’re not outside during the peak hours of heat during the summer months, typically between eleven and two in the afternoon. If your yard is fenced or secure, be sure that they know not to wander away when your back is turned. At this age, it’s still wise to spend most of their outdoor time with them to ensure that they’re safe and not engaging in overly risky behavior. During colder months, KidsHealth.org experts state that there is no automatic cutoff time related to how long kids can stay outdoors, but that they should come in when they’re feeling uncomfortable and the weather feels unpleasant to them to avoid dangerous overexposure.

School-Aged Kids

When your child reaches the early elementary years and above, she’ll probably want to spend time outdoors playing without direct supervision. Unless you live in a very secure area with a fenced property, you may want to work out a structured program in order to keep her safe. Kids should be allowed to come inside to warm up or cool down as needed, for regular rehydration breaks and to have snacks, as vigorous outdoor activity burns calories and dehydrates an active little body. The level of direct supervision that’s required is totally dependent upon the area in which you live and the type of security features on your property. If there’s a pool, trampoline or other attractive hazard on your property, it’s always best to keep a close eye on your children at all times when they’re outside. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids also have at least one hour each day to relax and enjoy unstructured, creative play time. Make sure that you allow enough time for your child to spend her hour in free, indoor creative play that’s not physically strenuous. The Mayo clinic also recommends that kids spend at least 30 minutes to one hour of their day engaged in active play, but that the prescribed hour can be broken down into 10 minute intervals when busy schedules don’t allow for a full, uninterrupted hour of play.

Teaching Kids Healthy Eating Habits

nutritionIt’s hard to teach kids healthy eating habits, but teaching kids about health is part of most state standards. In California, for example, nutrition and physical activity is taught starting in kindergarten. But how do you do this while juggling everything else you’ve got to do as a teacher? Here are some helpful resources:

My Pyramid– Make your own individual pyramid based on your age, gender and physical activity level

Super Tracker – Sign up for a free account and track your nutrition, physical activity, set goals and look up nutritional information on all kinds of foods using the Food-Pedia.

Teacher Stuff– curricula and lesson plans on nutrition

Literature– Great list of kids books about food, physical exercise & nutrition