Self-Regulation and Reduced Test Anxiety and Increased Test Scores:

 "Our educational systems continue to focus on honing children’s cognitive skills from the moment they enter the kindergarten classroom. Virtually no emphasis is placed on educating children on managing the inner conflicts and unbalanced emotions they bring with them to school each day. As new concepts such as "social and emotional intelligence" become more widely applied and understood, more educators are realizing that cognitive ability is not the sole or necessarily the most critical determinant of young people’s aptitude for flourishing in today’s society. Proficiency in emotional management, conflict resolution, communication and interpersonal skills is essential for children to develop inner self-security and the ability to effectively deal with the pressures and obstacles that will inevitably arise in their lives. Moreover, increasing evidence is illuminating the link between emotional balance and cognitive performance. Growing numbers of teachers agree that children come to school with so many problems that it is difficult for them to focus on complex mental tasks and the intake of new information, skills that are essential for effective learning. A substantial body of evidence exists that clearly shows when children also learn social and emotional skills, lifelong benefits that cross domains and expand the mind’s capacities can be obtained." - HeartMath

  • How to recognize and better understand basic emotional states.

  • How to self-regulate emotions.

  • Ways to strengthen the expression of positive feelings.

  • Ways to improve peer relations.

  • Skills for developing problem-solving.

Figure: Typical resting state heart rate variability patterns in students. HRV recordings from the TestEdge National Demonstration Study showing examples of two students’ resting-state heart-rhythm patterns, both before and approximately four months after the HeartMath intervention. Pre- and post-intervention test anxiety level (TAI-Global Scale score) and the CST-English Language Arts test score for each student are also shown. For the two students in the intervention school, the recordings show a shift from an erratic, irregular heart-rhythm pattern (left side), before the intervention, to a more coherent pattern (right side), which indicates the students had established a new more coherent baseline.

TRAINING:

  1. Physiology of emotions.

  2. Core values and engaging students in experiences that allowed them to practice sharing heartfelt emotions emerging from their core values.

  3. Practice moving from the state of thinking about positive emotional experiences to actually experiencing those emotions.

  4. Gaining self-awareness of emotional shifts.

  5. Working in small groups to build a sense of community in order to become comfortable generating and sharing positive emotions.

  6. Using biofeedback (Heart-rhythm coherence feedback) emWave Pro. 

    The overall goal is to introduce students to the relationship between emotions and cognitive performance.

Key factors that appear to maximise the success of the program:
  • Committed teacher/facilitator.

  • High expectations for student success.

  • Managing emotions should take place in the context of the classroom

  • Journaling or some mechanism for feedback to make continuous improvements along the way.

  • Begin program at the beginning of the school year.

  • Train the teacher/facilitator.

  • Students must be provided with ample opportunities to apply HeartMath tools inside and outside the classroom.

  • Real classroom experiences using HeartMath tools so individuals realise direct benefits.

  • Integration of HeartMath in the classroom is important for promoting student-to-student interaction