When students return in person to school after the COVID-19 shutdowns, chances are they will struggle with the demands of school. After months at home, there will be increased academic pressure, a sudden increase in social situations, and different expectations than at home. Calm corners? Definitely still needed! That said, they might have to look a little different. New school regulations might prohibit supply sharing, making the calm corners we’re used to (and that I’ve written about here and here), a bit of a challenge. Here are three ways that you can adapt your classroom or office self-regulation station for it to comply more with COVID safety precautions:
What if every student had their own small (affordable) stash of calming tools? They can fit into one of those shoe storage organizers.
Or if your students travel and you have access to lots of pencil pouches, they can go into their binders.
Some things you might include because of their low cost and/or small size (affiliate links):
- mandala coloring pages and 8-pack of crayons
- stress ball (cut up pool noodles are the cheapest option and rice or flour double-bagged in balloons are also awesome)
- stretchy animal or tube (I hit up the Target dollar spot for these but you can also buy them in bulk from Amazon)
- mini mind jar
- marble fidget
- self-affirmations (What if you give your students lots of options? Then they pick the ones they think will be most powerful for them! The examples in the picture are from my resiliency activities pack.)
- bubble wrap
Another option is for your calm corner to not have any tools at all. There are several calming strategies that students can use without tools, and just by being cued with a visual. The key is that you teach, model, and practice all of these strategies multiple times with your students. These might be breathing strategies, muscle relaxation strategies, or visualization/mindfulness strategies.
When my oldest son was a toddler, we went to group music classes in the summer. Each week for one of the songs, the leader brings out a big bag of instruments for the kiddos to use. Inevitably, some went into the kiddos’ mouths. Our job as adults was to make sure all of these instruments landed in the “yuck bucket”. The instructor cleaned these at the end of her day before putting them back into the instrument bag. The same can happen with calm corners, only it would be for all used tools (not just ones that went in the mouth, ha!). A small trash can with a step lid is a good option. No additional touching needed to open the lid, no temptation to grab something already used if there is no lid at all. Of course, this puts additional work on the counselor/teacher – someone has to disinfect the tools at the end of each day. There’s already a ton on everyone’s plates. That said, this is still an option to consider.
You can find that little sign on the can free in my google drive!
What is your school’s plan? If students are going back in person, will there still be safe places for students to self-regulate?
If you’re interested in teaching students about emotional regulation, here’s another post you’ll want to read: 5 Steps to Teach Emotional Self-Regulation