The students in Abigail Lopez’s special education Early Childhood Special Education Classroom at Saginaw Public’s Henry Doerr Early Childhood Center are learning a few things they might be able to pass along to their parents and other adults.

Abigail incorporates mindfulness, yoga, and self-regulation strategies in her lessons with her students, who range in age from three to five years old. 

"We believe in using a trauma-informed approach to help our students in the classroom regulate their emotions," Abigail said. "By utilizing a trauma-informed approach, we take into consideration what the child may be experiencing outside of school that is causing stress and emotional issues.”

This is where Abigail’s focus on mindfulness, the awareness of one's emotions, and her support for helping her students recognize and express their feelings is essential.

“We focus on helping our students calm their bodies and minds to get back to a regulated state where they’re able to learn effectively,” she said. “This is where techniques like yoga, breathing exercises, going to break areas, and using fidgets and sensory items come into play."

Abigail concentrates on several areas in her resource room such as academics, social and emotional growth, independent living, and fine motor skills.

"It's great when our students must make all new goals because they’ve accomplished their previous ones," noted Abigail, who will be starting her sixth year as an early childhood educator this fall.

She has her bachelor's degree from Saginaw Valley State and has just a couple more classes to obtain her master's degree in early childhood education. 

"When parents tell me they are now using the tools at home their child first learned here at school, that’s one of the coolest things to hear!" she said.