In our Kindergarten classrooms self-regulation is the foundation of our teaching and the driving force behind our teaching practise. We view student behaviour through a self-regulation lens. For us, Hallowe’en is the first marker, a personal assessment of how effective our teaching has been in not only creating a self-regulated classroom in its physical organisation, but in our teaching and use of self-regulation strategies.
Not only was it Hallowe’en on Monday but we had our Emergency Release Drill on Thursday. Sometimes we are not really sure how the children will respond to a lot of change. We have many routines built into our day which forms a big part of the children’s self-regulation. However, part of growing up also means having the flexibility to cope (calmly) with change so we put our self-regulation to the test.
Despite the Hallowe’en excitement, and waves of low (blue zone) and high (yellow zone) energy we had in class this week, our teaching of self-regulated strategies and routines over the past two months came back to us in a healthy harvest (you reap what you sow) of quite calm, thoughtful and cooperative children. We tried to be very sensitive to the classroom energy level by providing extra outside time to make chalk drawings in our undercover area, more crafting for idle hands and lots of teacher read-alouds to listen and relax by. We noticed lots of hearty sandwiches and pastas coming out of lunch bags and these delicious meals certainly made a difference to the lunch hour as the children were happily engaged in eating and refueling for the afternoons.
While enjoying a few quiet and reflective minutes with our class, we’re bringing their attention to how a peaceful, restful mind and body break can make them feel refreshed and re-energized for learning. We’ve been talking about our thoughts as ideas, pictures (images) and quiet words in our head as we’ve introduced Incredible Flexible You, a social thinking curriculum for young children, a couple of weeks ago. Understanding our thoughts and feelings, and how each person brings his or her thoughts and feelings to any social interaction, have been the first part of our teaching. We’re building upon the concept of “thinking thoughts” to create calming images with the children, in their heads, to increase their repertoire of self-regulation strategies.
We made it safely past Hallowe’en, but our practise of self-regulation strategies carries on. Next stop: Christmas.