My students need materials for a calming corner (a rug, book case, a pillow, books and fabric); an area they can go to that feels like home, where they can learn to connect with their emotions, and calm their minds and bodies.
I work with a diverse group of 3rd and 4th graders, diverse in their needs as well as their cultures. They all have special needs, including learning disabilities, autism, and behavioral disorders. I love working with them and seeing them succeed. By the time a lot of these students reach 3rd and 4th grade, they already feel like failures and struggle greatly to find the motivation to learn. The sense of pride they have when they achieve something that they haven't achieved in years, or something that they had given up on, is unparalleled. Almost all of them come from low income families. They deserve the world, but often do not have much.
My students are amazing and have a lot to contribute to the world. Some of them have emotional and behavioral disorders. They sometimes have trouble regulating their emotions and do not know what to do with big, intense feelings. This leads to meltdowns and the inability to learn throughout the day. During meltdowns, students often cause harm to themselves or even to others. Often, their big emotions are not understood, and they face punishments and behavior charts, both of which have been shown not to be effective.
We need to change how we manage children's behaviors and emotions and teach in a more caring, loving way.
It's important to teach children emotional skills in the same way we teach them reading, writing, and math. My students will learn effective strategies to help them calm down before they melt down. They need a place within the classroom that feels like home and and will have tools to help them manage their emotions when the feelings get to be too much.
This calming corner will be cozy and welcoming. It needs books about emotions and behaviors that will help students connect their feelings with the stories in the books. It also needs a table, a chair, a rug, some pillows and decorations to make it feel like home. It will also have exercises they can do to calm their minds and bodies. It will be utilized as an area to take a break, and rejoin the class after students recognize and manage their emotions.
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