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(Australia) Teachers taught to create 'chill out zone' in classrooms to keep kids CALM

Aug 13, 2018, Education HQ: How to create a calming ‘chill out zone’ in your classroom ...As a twenty-first century educator, you no doubt know that innovative teaching and learning spaces can be the key to supporting your students’ classroom performance. That’s why a ‘chill out’ zone in the corner of your room could be the answer you are looking for to create a sense of calming support for the children in your care. As a teacher for more than 30 years, and the mum of a highly sensitive child, I understand how complicated classrooms can be for kids whose learning, social and emotional needs set them apart from their peers. A key concept to understand when creating a chill out zone in your classroom is the idea of ‘regulation’. In order to manage the high order tasks that are associated with learning, kids’ bodies need to be ‘calm and alert’ – or in other words, ready to react in a proportional way to the demands of their day. For children who become easily overwhelmed and students whose attention to task is fleeting, a chill out zone can offer an easy way to get kids ‘back on track’. It can also be a very effective pre-emptive strategy that supports students’ focused concentration, problem-solving and resilience and prevents classroom behaviour from deteriorating…. …A combination of some of the following items might make a great ‘sensory sanctuary’ for the students in your group. • Crash mats and cushions • Weighted toys • Weighted blankets • Swing (if possible) • Egg chair • Fidget toys • Respiration toys (such as blow toys) • Liquid motion timer • Head phones playing calm music… The terrific thing about a chill out zone is that all of your students can benefit from time spent in it. Helping all kids to recognise their own feelings of stress and showing them ways to feel calm is part of teaching them valuable, and life-long, self-care strategies…. While all members of your class should have access and may benefit from your classroom chill out zone, it will be particularly beneficial for children with sensory processing and emotional regulation challenges. Children who are anxious, exhibit high levels of activity and those who appear to withdraw when the classroom becomes noisy or busy are just some of the students you may choose to prioritize as part of your programing… Having said that, it will be helpful for everyone if children are able to access the chill out zone when they are feeling overstimulated, disorganized or irritated…. Remember, many children can have difficulty with sensory processing without having a diagnosis of a learning difference or disability….

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