Self regulation skills at school require the ability to tolerate sensations, situations and distress and form appropriate responses. Simply stated, it is the ability to control emotions, thinking, behavior and motor actions in different situations. In children, self regulation matures just like other developmental processes. Children get older and learn to think before they act. Research indicates that self regulation in children is a predictor of academic abilities. Children with higher levels of self regulation have achieved higher scores in reading, vocabulary and math. In addition, some research has shown that the ability for young children to self regulate is associated with higher, future education levels.
Obviously, self regulation skills at school is a super hot topic when school begins. Students are expected to control their actions in large group settings, small groups, transitions, independent work time, recess, the lunchroom and more. When students struggle in the area of self regulation it can result in loss of instructional time due to unacceptable behaviors. Teachers frequently rely on school based occupational therapists and school based physical therapists to help students learn how to self regulate. The Self Regulation Skills Curriculum – Move Work Breathe was created by a pediatric OT to help school wide in the development of self regulation skills. It includes everything you need to start a school wide self regulation skill curriculum. This will help to put all providers on the same page when teaching self regulation skills. Start the school year off with everyone working together rather than fixing it after the fact. This curriculum is all set to go to help you train staff, develop goals, collect data, create self regulation plans and more!
Here are 6 simple tips to encourage self regulation in all children:
1. Therapists, teachers and parents should model good self regulation and self control. Use a calm tone in stressful situations. Model self control during disruptive classroom or home time.
2. Partner children who lack self regulation with children who exhibit better control to act as appropriate role models.
3. Play fun games that require children to wait for directions before they act (i.e. Simon Says).
4. Play fun games that require turn taking.
5. Keep activities structured and predictable.
6. Students respond to opportunities for self-regulation significantly more often in small group and play contexts.
Flora, I. Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday Experiences. Young Children July 2011 pp 46-51.
Ponitz, C. et al. A structured observation of behavioral self-regulation and its contribution to kindergarten outcomes. Developmental Psychology. Vol 45(3), May 2009, 605-619.
Timmons, Kristy, Janette Pelletier, and Carl Corter. “Understanding children’s self-regulation within different classroom contexts.” Early Child Development and Care 186.2 (2016): 249-267.