We asked teachers around the country to share some of their favorite ways to help students self-regulate during the school day. Their answers ranged from taking a short walk to breathing exercises to using the tools in their classroom calming corners. Keep reading to get calm-down strategies for the classroom you can start using with your own students today.
18 ways to help students self-regulate in the classroom
- I ask my students to take deep breaths. They aren’t usually in the mindset to just stop and breathe, so I model it and take deep breaths myself while also using hand movements to show when I’m breathing in and out. Eventually they start to do the same, and then we’re both calm to discuss the issue at hand. –Amanda Owens
- I am a Special Ed Technician. To help our kids, we get down and talk to them very calmly and try to help them solve their problems, and we take walks and give space as needed. We get drinks of water. We let them talk and listen to them because most the time they get frustrated or are just reaching out. So just being calm with them, helping them work through it, giving them that comfort and trust, and letting them know that we are there for them really helps our kids. –Stacie Pittman
- I teach K–3 Health & Wellness, and creating a calm and safe learning environment is very important to me. My favorite way and an easy way to create a calm classroom is by keeping the lights dimmed and greeting my students with calming music when they enter the room or during work time. We also practice mindfulness by doing breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and yoga occasionally. On Fridays, we practice other mindfulness activities like free draws and free writing. –Jenna Pluta
- I keep the lights lower and have lavender scented gel beads. I also build rapport with students. This helps them feel safe and cared for in the resource center. –Lori Smalley
Create an instant
Get everything you need to create a quiet space for students to self-regulate, including sensory toys, a black-out tent, and more.
- I am a third grade teacher, and we do mindful breathing. We do it twice a day — after morning recess and after afternoon recess. I modeled for them the breathing technique for the first month into the school year, and now the kids ask if they can lead the breathing. –Denise Schienke
- We try to start our day by getting our jitters out, so we line dance every morning — either “Macarena” or “Cha Cha Slide.” Both of these also allow me to incorporate cross body exercises from Brain Gym. This helps them center before we even start lessons and has decreased the number of issues we have in class because students are overwhelmed in class. For in-the-moment overwhelmed, we have learned deep breathing exercises that students can do independently. –Nicole Powell MacNamara
- I teach eighth grade, and I keep a toolkit in my room of various items, including fidgets, posters of breathing strategies, bookmarks, and even pamphlets I got from my school social worker. I also have a collection of stuffed animals and sensory jars. I’m hoping to get a grant next year to get some furniture for my room that is more comfortable for my calm-down area. Right now it’s just a carpet and bookshelf with all of my calm-down materials on it. –Meghan Kirk
- In the calm-down corner in my classroom, I have a poster with strategies my students can use when they feel overwhelmed. There are also paper and writing tools they can use to express themselves and some fidgets. At the beginning of the school year, I introduced the calm-down corner to the students and we discussed when and how it is appropriate for them to use it. –Lorena A. Olvera Canales
- I have several bean bag chairs in a quiet area of my classroom. Most of my students can calm themselves just by sitting in one of the bean bags. I also have fidgets and a weighted blanket for those students who need more. There are also posters in the area that go over the procedures to calm themselves. At the beginning of the school year, I go over those procedures with those students who need to learn how to calm themselves. –Barbara Ahnen
- I have a quiet cube where the student can go, or I sit with them in the center. We will look at books, do breathing strategies, talk about their feelings and why they feel that way. I will give them Pop Its, sensory bottles, or puzzles to do while they calm down. When they feel calm, they can got back to centers and play. I teach PreK. –Amy Lynn Roberson
- I often talk softly to them, play calming music or videos, and use the breathing tool that goes in and out with each breath. –Robyn Reichert
- We have a sensory room this year (still gathering items). So far we have a calming corner with a comfy chair, hopscotch mat, liquid tiles, rest mat, sensory path, fidgets, and other toys and manipulatives. I’m gathering musical instruments, toys, oral motor items, wooden puzzles, and other sensorimotor activities. In our class, we practice positivity, kindness, mindfulness, and social-emotional skills. We utilize character education resources, sensory music videos, deep breathing, and stretching. Each student makes a poster of positive traits to practice rather than just having rules to follow. My students have a voice and choice in our routine and activities. –Denise Griffin
- We have a set routine with choices, and if a student needs help regulating, they know they can either go for a walk, squeeze a squishy plush toy, or sit in a quiet space to cool down. –@magicalartroom
- In my elementary art room, we practice using all the tools in our toolbox for calming ourselves down — our breath and movement; stepping away from the stressful situation, person, or activity; being silly; and of course, creating art! –@ahbeebennett
- I teach a multi-grade-level classroom (K–2), and I created a calm-down corner with a comfy chair and beanbag. My students also use their finger to “blow out the candle” for breathing and distraction. They also like to bury their hands in kinetic sand or go on a walk with their para. –@treeoxox
- We have a calming corner in each classroom at our school. We allow students to take a few minutes to do what they need to do to be calm, whether it is use a fidget toy, hug a pillow, read a short book, or jot their thoughts. It’s nice because they know that it is only to be used when they really need it. –@mis3ninas
- Having clear classroom procedures in place and time to practice in a no-pressure environment helps. If a situation is rising, then I model taking deep breaths with my students following along so we can calm down and talk about it together. –@puddle_hunter
- Take a walk — in the room, in the hall, or a lap outside. It helps students regulate their breathing, allows for movement that they may have been trying to avoid while sitting in their seats, and gives a quick change of scenery to reset the mind. (This, of course, depends on the student’s abilities and the situation.) –@_beingbriana
What are your favorite calm-down strategies for the classroom?
Do you use some of these strategies in your classroom? Maybe you have a unique way of helping students regulate their emotions. Share your ideas in the comments below!