With the uncertainty of what to expect with returning back to school I thought this would be a really good topic to focus on. To be honest when I think about going back I feel anxious and confused. Anxious of not knowing what to expect, and then confused on how everything is going to work. The more I thought about my own feelings and how I cope with these big emotions the more I thought of our students. This whole pandemic experience has changed their whole daily routine. Changing what was once comfortable to them to now living in an unpredictable world. Therefore, I thought sharing a story that included animal friends all dealing with different emotions may help our little ones to learn about feelings. Teaching children at a young age to identify how they are feeling paired with coping strategies/tools will strengthen their emotional regulation.
One of my favorite programs to use with our children is the zones of regulation. This program groups feelings into color categories. We have now adopted this program as a tier 2 intervention used in all of our classrooms in the school. This allows for the students to do a "check in" of communicating how they are feeling. Once the staff knows how the student is feeling then they help direct the students to appropriate regulating strategies. During my therapy sessions I will teach new strategies or review previous strategies learned. Students start developing their own favorite strategies which is a nice thing about learning a different strategy every week. What may work for one student may not be effective for another, so it is nice to have a variety to pick from.
This program is easy enough to be carried over into the home setting, and be used by the entire family. Basically you need a visual tool to be able to identify what color zone you are in. This could be as simple as using four pieces of construction paper 1.)Red, 2.)Yellow, 3.)Green & 4.)Blue. In my video I talk about Bear feeling mad, so we would put him in the red zone. This is the highest level of alertness which makes it difficult to function, therefore we would want to encourage calming activities. In the video we used distancing and counting as a calm down tool.
Another animal we met was fish and he was feeling silly and his body was running very fast. We would put fish in the yellow zone which is the next level of alertness still making it difficult to focus. In the video we learned how to do the tree yoga pose, for this is a great way to slow the mind. You must concentrate on balancing on one leg to successfully do the pose. The second animal who fell into the yellow zone was our friend flamingo who was feeling scared and anxious. We helped flamingo feel more confident by learning how to do the warrior yoga pose. This pose encourages the student to feel brave like a superhero.
Our last animal friend we talked about was the happy koala who would fall into the green zone. She was well regulated and ready to learn. When someone is in the green zone we say they are in the "just right" mode. This means their body is not running to fast or running to slow. In the video we practice greeting others by reaching up to greet the sun, and then greeting one another. Don't forget to add a smile as it can brighten someones day!
The last zone is the blue zone and it usually is classified as a low alertness state. Meaning this level may require alerting activities or resting. Feelings that fall into this zone can be sadness, tired, sick, or bored. The blue zone can be compared to the rest area signs where one goes to rest or re-energize.
Now is a great time to start talking to your child about emotions and practicing some coping strategies at home prior to starting the new school year. Please see below for a list of activities to use in learning about feelings & self regulation skills.
Play feelings charades- Take turns with your children acting out & guessing different feelings (skills addressed: feeling identification, communication)
Painting with music & discuss how each song makes them feel (loud/soft fast/slow) (skills addressed: feeling identification, communication, fine motor skills)
Red Light Green Light- Children will run when it is green light and stop when it is red light. I like to use a visual like a scarf or flag for the two colors. (skills addressed: inhibit impulses, break a habit, gross motor skills)
Freeze Game - Have the children dance when the music is on and freeze when it is off (play loud/soft fast/slow music) (skills addressed: inhibit impulse, break a habit, gross motor skills, listening)
Wacky Relay by partnering with someone to carry an object (skill addressed: teamwork, social skills, gross motor skills, controlling emotions)
Self Control Bubbles - Sit in a circle and blow bubbles for the kids to pop. The second time blow bubbles but everyone is to restrain from popping. Instead encourage the kids to just watch the bubbles fall to the ground. (skill addressed: resist temptations, inhibit impulses)
Ready, Set, Go - The kids stand in a line to race. They have to wait to hear the words "ready, set, go" make sure to mix it up by saying different words "ready,set, guava or ready,set,good". This will work on the kids attention and listening skills. (skill addressed: resist temptation, listening, self control)
Side Note: Researchers Shauna Tominey & Megan McClelland proved that children who played games like the ones listed above two times a week for 30 minutes each for eight weeks had improved their self regulation score.
I hope you find the information helpful and I would like to thank everyone who continues to support my videos. This is a great way for me to continue to support our students. Here is the link to my 2 newest videos all about emotions. Don't forget to subscribe to Miss Farrah's Movement and Fun Channel to keep posted on new videos.
Learning to Deal with Big Emotions Video:
Learning about the Zones of Regulation with Mr. Potato Head:
Enjoy & Stay Safe