One of the most valuable lessons we can teach our children is the awareness of their own emotional state. Each month with mother Goose Time, we focus on a different character trait, such as Being Kind, Patient, Loving, etc., and sometimes we need space to be those things for ourselves. In our Preschool/Pre-K classroom, we have been working on the development of a space for children to be when the world just feels too big. Permission is given to all children to visit our “Quiet Cubby” anytime, and if they are particularly upset, a teacher can go with him/her.
On the shelves, we placed a variety of items to use as tools for calming/comfort. We found car wash mits at the Dollar Tree that are great for soft sensory. There are things to squish, thinking putty, mini calming jars that can be shaken and then watch as the glitter all settles. We made a weighted pad out of some soft fabric and rice.
One of our favorite tools is “Smell the Flower, Blow out the Candle”. This strategy comes from the Applebaum Training Institute, and if you haven’t been to one of their trainings, I highly recommend you do. We added a little “Stress Away” essential oil blend from Young Living to our Dollar Store flowers and the battery-operated candle is extra fun.
When introducing something new that is for everyone, but specifically designed for one or two children in particular, we begin by allowing everyone to check it all out. This reduces the stigma and creates an atmosphere where everyone is safe.
When the excitement begins to fade, we set a timer and allowed children time to explore one at a time. This is a great chance to explain the purpose with those it is intended to help, but what is good for one is good and available to all. This way the child who needs it is more likely to use it.
Now we are entering the second week with this new space, and it is working beautifully. Children are taking time to visit the quiet cubby, play with some thinking putty with the rice pack on their laps, and they love it. The classroom is more calm and productive. We love having a safe space where we can talk about our feelings, use calming strategies, and seek comfort when needed. Time-Out is not a term we use, but it is completely acceptable and encouraged to take space for ourselves. Hopefully these children will grow into adults that have a better understanding of how to handle emotions appropriately and safely.
For more information about this technique and how we handle guidance and discipline at Wonders, please follow the link!