Calming Strategies for Students Who Need a Break

In my previous post on Classroom Management Strategies, I mentioned that one of the consequences after a verbal warning was for a student to sit out on the bench.

I want to follow that up with what I have students do during this time. My goal is not to have them out of physical activity for any extended period of time, since activity and movement are what will probably help them process their emotions best. 

Instead, I want to focus on keeping them and others safe, channeling their energy, and refocusing their mind so they can rejoin the activities as a safe and engaged participant.

These strategies are simple, require very little in terms of materials or props, and are easy enough to be taught whole-class at the start of the year, not just in the heat of the moment when it feels like too much. 

"Sitting Out" and What That Doesn't Mean

An important thing to reiterate to yourself and your students is that "Sitting out on the bench doesn't just mean you are sitting out on the bench."

While sitting and resting on the bench is always an option for every student in class, my main goal is to encourage students to add skills to refocus and recenter to their toolbelt that don't include any punitive action with no reflection.

Therefore, we talk a lot about these activities throughout our classes and use them as strategies in a variety of environments. 

Because we set these up in advance, they are not just seen as "punishment" to-do's or unfamiliar choices. Kids have seen these in Brain Breaks, during our end-of-class mindfulness sessions, and more. 

And the advantage of PE is that many have seen these over the course of several years!

Every kiddo knows what Balloon Breath is or Finger Tracing. In this "sitting out" bench time, they are pulling them out on their own to work on them solo.

Calming Strategy Posters

I have made some Calming Down Posters that I want to share with you today that work very well for my K-5 PE students.

These posters are printed at 1/4 of the size, laminated, and then put on binder rings. These sit on the shelf near the bench, so when a student is asked to sit out, they can flip through these for ideas. I can also be there to assist and chat with them. 

If all a student wants to do is sit on the bench, that's fine. You'll notice that is one of the included choices. I have found that legs up the wall and getting a drink of water are the two that usually get chosen. 

I let the students decide which one(s) they would like to do and sometimes they check in with me, sometimes I will ask them, and sometimes they just jump right into the one they want. 

More guidance is required for the little kiddos, so the pictures help and I sometimes help by narrowing the choices down to two or three cards.

If you would like to grab a free copy of these posters, you can click HERE to download them from TpT directly.

When they are ready to rejoin the class, we have a quick chat and they are back to the fun. It is usually after one or two cards and a little chat. Less than five minutes but more than 30 seconds.

End Goals

My end goal with PE is always to have fun and be safe. As long as kids are keeping themselves and others safe and not interfering with anyone else's experience in a negative way, I am okay with that. 

We all experience movement, mindfulness, and activity differently. It processes through us in a wide variety of ways and students will never look the exact same, nor would we want them to!

My end goal with having a kid "sit out" is to remove them from a potentially dangerous situation (physically and/or emotionally) and give them a chance to regroup. I want them out there in our gym class. I want them participating and having fun. I want them to be a part of the group and a part of the lesson.

By having them practice these calming strategies, I hope to equip them with short term solutions to rejoin a game or station, but also long term skills of what to do when a situation becomes too overwhelming or they need a break. 

I hope these Calming Down Cards are helpful to you and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. 

Stay well,

No comments

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment!