NEW YORK -- Tuesday was the last day of school for many students, but already New York City public school educators are thinking ahead to next fall.
Third graders Noah, Cach and Shawn were leading their classmates at Public School 5 through some mindful breathing techniques.
"Breathing like that took away my stress," Noah said.
"When I get into problems, I take a breath so nothing can happen to me," Shawn added.
It's part of a mental health and emotional wellness program Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks are implementing in all public schools -- kindergarten through 12th grade -- starting next fall.
"There's nothing more important that we can teach our kids than mindfulness," Banks said.
"A lot of our students have anxiety or anger, and it's very tough at home," physical education teacher Deanna Lashley said.
At least one staff member at every school will be trained to lead mindful breathing that only takes between two and five minutes. Teachers can decide to start their day with it or maybe take a pause during phys ed class.
"Some people would dismiss it and say, 'What is this feely, feely good stuff?' No, go look at the science. Breath-work helps the entire physiology," Adams said.
Experts say mindful breathing helps lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, which decreases stress and increases students' attention and focus.
"Besides quieting the mind, it makes the person get more in touch with their feelings. The caveat, therefore, would be some kids will get more in touch with some painful subjects -- things are happening at home, making them sad, will get in touch with some feelings that will need follow up," psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman said.
That's where professionals come in. Banks says every public school has funding allocated to hire a social worker.
At P.S. 5, guidance counselor Sonora Vincent says since picking up the practice she has noticed a shift in attitudes.
"A change we've noticed, they're more calm, not so many arguments," Vincent said.
"Sometimes my brother argues and instead of arguing with them back, I walk away, ignore them and just breathe," third grader Cach said.
The mayor and schools chancellor say this is just the first step in creating more mindful schools that include gardens, rest places and even yoga.
"The nation's first yoga alliance-approved program to be run by public schools. Watch what happens. This is going to cascade across the entire country," Adams said.
And on the final day of class before the summer, teachers said they hope students will bring the benefits of breathing home for a summer of rest and recovery.