Helping kids stay calm: 12 SEL strategies 

Are you looking for more ways to help students deal with emotions during the school day? Check out these 12 strategies teachers are using to help students decompress and focus on their well-being so they can be ready to learn.  

  1. We have a class meeting every morning where we do mindfulness exercises. – Ginger H.  
  1. SEL is a big part of my elementary health curriculum. One of my favorite lessons is when we have our mental health days! Students get to choose from free draw, coloring pages, free write, breathing exercises, play dough, yoga, listen to music, etc. I reinforce how practicing these strategies in class and finding strategies that work best for you can be used at home whenever they need a break or to care for their emotional well-being. – Jenna P. 
  1. My students have access to fidget devices and a sensory room. I incorporate growth mindset into my instruction. – Dale B. 
  1. I have a calm-down corner with fidget toys, calm-down strategies, a feelings check-in chart, and a folder with resources for each student such as coloring pages and feeling cards. We also have an SEL curriculum we use daily to review important topics. – Danielle R. 
  1. Read-alouds are my go-to for SEL lessons. My young students are able to relate to the characters and problem-solve for them in a way that they aren’t good at doing for themselves yet! – Niki J. 
  1. [I have] students come up with possible problems they may face when doing individual, partner, or group work and ways to help solve them. – Genny B. 

Create an instant
calm-down corner! 

Get everything you need to create a quiet space for students to self-regulate, including sensory toys, a black-out tent, and more. 

  1. I teach students with mild to severe cognitive disabilities in a self-contained special education classroom. One way we practice SEL is through a personal greeting during our daily morning meetings! Students turn to say “Good morning ____,” and they can offer a handshake, high five, or additional positive comment! – Alissa R. 
  1. I teach Pre-K, so we incorporate SEL into activities throughout the day. We use social stories, puppets to act out social-emotional situations, and we have a “safe place” where students can go if they need a break. – Cynthia B. 
  1. I’m a high school teacher who has a calming space for students to hug a pillow or stuffed animal! – Jennie W.  
  1. We do weekly SEL lessons depending on what concerns or difficulties arise in class that week. We are always discussing the importance of a positive mindset especially when faced with difficult tasks, concepts, etc. – Amanda P. 
  1. I plan on continuing the use of deep breathing after each recess and when I see things percolating throughout the day. The “Alphabreaths” book is a great one for teaching a variety of breathing techniques! I like having a student choose the breath, having another model it if the chooser is too shy, and having another student count it out for everyone to do together. – @lynn_teaches3rd 
  1. I’m a special education teacher, and I have a corner in my classroom where students can take breaks so that they can be productive in the classroom. We also talk a lot about our zones of regulation and how to be mindful. – Kristin L. 

How are you incorporating SEL strategies into your classroom routine? Tell us in the comments below! 

And don’t forget to check out “6 steps to creating your classroom calming corner,” so you can put some of these strategies into practice.  

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