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Building a Toolbox to Support Self Regulation
Park Tudor First Grade Team

Our young students often need support in managing the stamina, responsibilities and social interactions of their school day.  “Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.” - Center of Developing Child, Harvard University. Our first grade team has integrated these skills into our daily lessons and routines.   

Helping students understand their current emotional state is often the first step in self-regulation.  We use the Zones of Regulation to teach students about the different emotions we all have.  There are four color coded zones and these colors give us common language in the classroom.  

  • Green Zone: calm state of alertness, happy, focused, content
  • Blue Zone: low state of alertness, sad, tired, sick
  • Yellow Zone: heightened alertness, excitement, nervousness
  • Red Zone: extremely heightened alertness, anger, scared
zone chart

Zones Chart Displayed in Classroom

Students check-in with how they are feeling. This happens throughout the day as conversations, non-verbal signals, or self-reflections.

With student input about their current emotional state the teacher can better support the student. It’s not uncommon to see classes or individual students “taking a break” throughout the day.  These breaks are valuable tools to help students recharge and reset.  
Some strategies we use to promote self-regulation include:

  • Mindful breathing
  • Movement breaks
  • Positive self talk
  • Visual schedules
  • Student choice

Flexible seating offers students choice in how they learn throughout the day.

Pop its, squishy balls, and other sensory tools are available for students to use when taking a break.

Whole class movement break.

First grade is a year of growth and transition as students enter the Lower School. Cultivating self awareness and regulating strategies provides our students with support for the ups and downs they may encounter in their day.