Grounding and Students

Six Ways To Use Grounding To Help Keep Your Students From Drowning

By Carrissah Calvin

As a young black student in sixth grade, I had so much more on my mind than just school and what cereal I would eat that day. I worried about my mother’s health who had just suffered a brain aneurysm and if she was okay at home. I worried about how my siblings and father were handling it. I had never see my dad as emotional as during that time. I was worried about how my hair looked, especially since my mother was unable to do it. I was worried about going to middle school the next year and whether I would go to a school in the black neighborhood my school was currently in or at a school in the town my home was in, that was predominately white. I was worried I would be leaving all my friends. I made efforts to focus on school and ended up earning the Presidential Award at the end of the year, but it was a constant mental and emotional battle.

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When we think of grounding we may first think of that form of discipline that was rarely used by our parents. However, we also refer to a person being grounded as being down to Earth or “centered”. There are sets of simple strategies that therapists use to help their clients detach from emotional pain and become “centered”.

My mother is a retired teacher and therapist that uses grounding to help her clients with anxiety. I envisioned her placing her clients in an isolated corner and telling them they could not move for a certain amount of time. Of course, after further discussion I discovered this was not what she meant.

The idea behind grounding is that becoming overwhelmed with anxiety is often due to worrying about the past or future. Grounding forces you to focus on the present and reality. Have you ever been so focused on something that happened yesterday, that you were unable to be present in the moment? Or have you ever been so worried about something that you were preparing for that you realized you rarely focused on what was happening that day, so the day just “flew by”. It is important to be mindful.

Children are in school six hours a day, but so much life happens outside of that. Our students’ minds can be going anywhere during class, especially with the current political climate and issues plaguing our communities.  In Sacramento, we lost a young black man, Stephon Clark, at the hands of the police. Incidents such as this can easily cause anxiety within our communities, even if students do not understand where this anxiety is stemming from. Students having the tools to learn how to refocus and self soothe is very beneficial.

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There are three categories for grounding: soothing grounding, physical grounding, and mental grounding.

Soothing Grounding

     1. Encourage students to say kind and coping statements to themselves. These statements could include, “You can achieve this,” or “This is just a hard time or feeling that will pass.”

     2. Picture people you care about. By picturing people we care about, it can soothe us because we are focused on one thing and it is something positive.

      3. Play a game with your class that encourages them to focusing their favorite color, animal, season. This will allow students to focus on the present.

Physical Grounding

  1. Encourage students to say kind and coping statements to themselves. These statements could include, “You can achieve this,” or “This is just a hard time or feeling that will pass.”
  2. Picture people you care about. By picturing people we care about, it can soothe us because we are focused on one thing and it is something positive.
  3. Play a game with your class that encourages them to focusing their favorite color, animal, season. This will allow students to focus on the present.

Mental Grounding

  1. Describe your environment to yourself in detail.
  2. Count to 10 or say the alphabet
  3. Use humor

As educators, it is important to teach our students the skills that will allow them to succeed. If a student is physically, but not mentally present in the classroom this can hinder their education and affect them throughout life. Being able to control your ability to be mentally present is a skill that can be utilized and is important in any setting. We teach so much more than just academics and love it!

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Carrissah Calvin was born and raised in Sacramento, California. The youngest of 5, she is currently teaching in Sacramento, California as a first year fourth grade teacher. Carrissah has a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and a minors in Chemistry and Journalism from California State University, Sacramento.   When she is not teaching, she likes to listen to music, fashion styling, and attending her student’s extracurricular events. She also likes spending time with her ten-year-old niece, Kayleigh. Carrissah enjoys to read, write, and travel. She loves her family and sharing her life with them. You can follow her at @carrissahraquell.

Sheri Smith