In the interest of leaving the student in choice, beginning learning and development exercises with “invitations” to engage in any activity is important. This invitation leaves students in choice about when and how to engage, thus empowering them into their own emotion regulation strategies (assuming they have been coached into awareness of what their healthful strategies are, which is what we are inviting trauma-informed practices to facilitate).
Each time you meet with the students you serve, it may also be useful to invite them into a physical grounding exercise of gentle movement such as stretching, where they are invited to bring their attention to rest gently on parts of the body that are moving. You might also invite them to bring their attention to simply sitting on a chair, noticing the sensation of their feet on the floor, seat in the chair, back upright or slouched, etc. This can be a fairly quick exercise that brings the students’ minds and bodies into the space where invitations for learning and development are about to be experienced. If your students are opened to it and following an invitation for them to become aware of their bodies in the chair, you could also invite them into bringing a gentle attention to rest on the breath sensation in the body, noticing for instance, the sensation of the belly rising and falling with each breath. Many students find this brief practice quite useful.
However, not all students will welcome arriving into the learning and development space and bringing immediate attention to their bodies in the chair or bringing a gentle attention to the breath sensation in their bodies. As such, it may also be useful to begin with an invitation for them to move – in whatever ways are comfortable to them – and to bring attention to their bodies in the way they move with each inhale and exhale. What is important here is that as educators, we are offering as many supportive alternatives as we can to aid in our students full arrival into the learning and development space.