As wellness rooms are starting to pop up in schools across the country, Valley Stream District 30 teachers have created their own wellness spaces in their classrooms, known as calming corners. Calming corners help improve student self-regulation and help students manage their behavior and social-emotional skills.
For hybrid students who attend school in-person, these calming corners are situated in a specific spot in their classrooms.
“Calming corners are a designated space in the classroom with the sole intent of being a safe space for a child to go to when they feel their emotions are running too high and they need to regain their emotional and physical control,” said Shaw Avenue teacher Jeanine Lichter.
These calming corners feature tools that students can utilize to help them calm down during the school day such as calming images, directions or steps to compose themselves, drawing paper, glitter jars, stress balls and water toys. Teachers also encourage students to reflect on their feelings in these spaces by using the Mood Meter, a chart where colors represent emotions, and to take a Meta-Moment. This is a tool that helps students stop and think before their first impulse to a challenging feeling.
“When a stressful situation happens, students are guided to sense how their body feels on the inside and what they are thinking about,” said Director of Special Services Dr. Nicole Schimpf. “Pause and breathe in order to calm down, imagine their best possible self, and then choose an effective emotion regulation strategy.”
Both the Mood Meter and Meta-Moments are social-emotional anchor tools developed by RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating), a systemic approach to SEL developed at the Center for Emotional Intelligence.
For those students who are remote this year, some District 30 teachers have created virtual calming corners or stations, such as on a Google Slide, for their students to interact with while at home when they need it. These virtual calming corners feature links to videos that encourage coping skills, children’s books, activities and more for students to engage in when they feel overwhelmed or overstimulated.
After taking a few minutes to themselves, students leave the calming corner more balanced than when they entered it. Incorporating this space into each classroom or virtual classroom has been a successful way of providing self-insight and improving self-confidence in students which will benefit them as they grow.