With the increase in demands on children at a young age, the push for children to demonstrate self-regulation at a younger age increases as well. Thus, to develop self-regulation skills, children need many opportunities to experience and practice with adults and capable peers. Self-regulation skills develop gradually, so it is important that adults hold developmentally appropriate expectations for children’s behavior. Modeling, using hints and cues, and gradually withdrawing adult support is the appropriate mode of intervention and support.
Within the groups I co-teach at my school with awesome teachers, we have to really stretch ourselves to help very young children to not only understand the concept but to begin demonstrating the skills. I have tried to explain to the regular education teachers that the goal during their kindergarten year is not that they will be able to do this independently but that they will gain understanding and accept help and redirection in difficult situations.
I have been using the Zones of Regulation curriculum at my school. To adapt it for my students with cognitive limitations and the younger population, I have begun to use books and videos. We are also using real photos or pictures of people and themselves to help learn facial/ body cues for various emotions. Our boys love books and love to read so this just sort of makes sense. Also, visuals speak a thousand words for them, especially since they have Autism. Pete the Cat has become on of my favorites this school year.
Who doesn't love Winnie the Pooh and his Friends? They make great examples of being in various states of arousal. Sesame Street also is a great resource for teaching kids concepts. This video is about happy and sad. They have other's on impulsivity, taking turns, deep breathes and anger management, and whole body listening.
We practice while playing games as a group and the students are able to get feedback on the spot. They similar terms are used within the classroom to help with generalizing and performing the skills within the regular education setting.
One of my teachers, who teaches in a separate setting, is also using books to help children understand their emotions and help them regulate by taking a break when needed. This is the visuals within her break area after the students did a unit with the book, knuffle bunny.