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This post is the second of two posts about helping students with social and emotional regulation. To read Part 1, please click here.
In the first post, we discussed 1) communicating feelings, 2) social / emotional language, 3) incorporating feelings and emotions into other curriculum areas and 4) Making connections between feelings and behaviors.
Over my 21 year career, I have worked with many young children who struggle with anxiety and frustration. The common thread is often that they feel completely out of control, lost, confused, emotionally unsafe in some way. They are usually testing the waters to see who they can trust and figure out what the rules are in the environment.
5 Create a list of expectations, or promises, as a group and ensure consistency with repetition and visuals
The more kids are involved in group decisions, the more invested they are in following through with them. Many teachers do this on the first day of school, review it periodically and keep it posted for the year. Keeping the list short and simple (covering safety, respect and learning) makes the expectations easier to remember.
I have seen this done with photos of students, drawings by students and many resources over the years. I love to teach by reading picture books whenever possible, so I created What Kind Classmates Do (pictured below). I have laminated the color version and bound it into book format to read aloud, and use the line art pages for students to color in.
6 Celebrate time students spend following expectations – these are teachable moments
Catch your students being kind and following expectations. Give them attention for that. It can be as simple as thanking them for lining up so nicely or raising their hand. Others will follow suit.
It can take everything we have in us to be present, patient and compassionate when the same issues repeat themselves and the lessons do not seem to stick, and it is so easy to fall into the habit of correcting kids, and telling them what not to do, inadvertently drawing more energy and attention to what we do not want!
Our students who struggle with emotional regulation do not naturally think of problem solving options when a problem arises, and difficult emotions can build to the point of needing something to change.
7 Have a quiet corner
Ever wish you could get away from it all? What if you weren’t allowed to? While it’s difficult for a teacher to leave the classroom, we do still have options for relief, as adults. Would you want to be a child in a typical classroom in 2018?
While we have to be able to see our students and ensure their safety, a dedicated corner of the room with comfortable seating or a mat, a partial barricade, calming materials and visuals can provide great relief to kids when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes, a high-interest book or quiet activity may be included, to distract a highly anxious child, for example, or something to color.
8 Use a variety of positive tools and strategies
Just as we would in other subject areas, we consider the needs and learning styles of our students, and have a variety of lessons and strategies to promote awareness of the connection between a child’s feelings and behaviors. Stories, visuals, feelings scales, dramatic play, and games are just a few.
I still have at least one more update planned for The #DWF visuals and activities set, and more #DWF stories will be coming! Be sure to follow me here, on TpT and social media for new posts, product updates and promotions!
What titles would you like to see in the #DWF series?