Program helps prepare students to get ready to learn

A Houston elementary school is the first in the city to try a new way to help children focus and get ready to learn. Students at Travis Elementary School say it's working! Several of them told FOX 26 News that they don't know how they ever went to school without it.

Research shows it really is possible to rewire your brain in a positive way. It just takes five minutes at the start of their day to help them get ready to learn. It's through a program called Present Time Kids, or PTK.

Seven-year-old Liam sure can tell a difference. 

"Before we do Present Time Kids it's kind of loud, then During Present Time Kids, its kind of quiet," says Liam.  He tells FOX 26 that makes it easier to learn!

The Principal at Travis Elementary considered the program, after reading an article.   "A year and a half ago, I saw an article in Time Magazine about mindfulness and this movement.  It struck me how mainstream it was, and the research behind it, and how beneficial it was for students, learning, and socialization.  Just so happens a few weeks later, Heather and Cheryl appreciated me," says Tom Day. 

Mr. Day is referring to Cheryl Hensley and Heather Goodwin, who are two moms and also Holistic Health Practitioners at Heights of Health.  Between their experience as a mothers and seeing what their clients were in need of, they came up with a concept that can help all students.  They're excited to roll-out their idea through the pilot program at Travis.  "Being a former teacher, it makes calmness and focus more accessible.  We teach kids how to re-wire their brain using something called neuro-plasticity.  It's simple exercises that don't take a long time - teachers don't have a long time," exclaims  Heather Goodwin, the Director of the Holistic Behavior Division at the Heights of Health.

The children listen to a five minute tape that gives them specific instructions.  Some of the time their eyes are shut, so that they can concentrate closely on what they're doing.  They practice deep and proper breathing, as well as listening.  They also repeat words like "I am calm and ready to learn.  Ten year old Kai likes doing it!  "It makes me feel calm and focused.  Before, it's sometimes noisy and loud and everyone's working on stuff.  It's not calm at all!  After we do it, everyone's calm and it gets a lot quieter," says Kai. 

"I'm very thankful because my last school never did this.  I was feeling a lot of stress, and when I came here, all that stress went away," says 10 year old Alyssa.  We talked to a second grade teacher at Travis Elementary who sure is proud of their results.  "I think long-term that we're teaching kids tools that help them in school, that help them as they grow.  I'll see kids throughout the day who are struggling and they'll do pause buttons (gently pressing on forehead to bring fresh blood to the brain to help them refocus) or I'll say - why don't you take belly breaths and get yourself focused.  It definitely helps from a teaching standpoint!  The great thing about it, throughout the day, you have this common language to pull from.  I can say, "I need present bodies - in 3,2,1,"... and they've got a present body and they know what that is," explains Ms. Crabtree.  A present body is a still, quiet body, and present listening is listening on purpose from the beginning to the end.  These are the important life skill's students are receiving at Travis Elementary. 

There's an upcoming workshop on Oct. 25th that is open to the public for parents and teachers who would like to learn more about Present Time Kids.  You can even try this in your home. 

Sunday, October 25th 2:00-4:00PM. Cost is $40 and $25 for educators. This seminar will be held at Heights of Health Holistic Clinic, 540 Frasier Street. Call 713-861-6777 to RSVP.