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How To Teach Your Students To Use A Calm Down Corner

Calm Down Corner
So you’ve set up your calm down corner. Now what? Before you open it up for your students, you need to teach them how to use it. Your kiddos aren’t going to know how to use your calm down corner right away. And the last thing you want is for it to be a play area. So you need to teach your expectations to them before they set foot in this area.

Think About Potential Problems At Your Calm Down Corner

Teaching your students to follow routines takes a bit of mindreading. You don’t know what kind of problems you’ll have until you have them, right?

So let’s think about some potential problems for your calm corner. Will they waste time there? Will they know when it’s time to return to their seats? What happens when more than one student wants to go to the calm corner at the same time. 

These are just some things to consider before you start to teach your students to use the calm corner. Thinking about these potential problems will help you create rules for your calm corner that will keep it functional and not a play area.

calm corner rules
When you’re ready, make sure that you have a poster with your expectations ready to go so your students have a reminder of your rules.

Here are some examples of posters you can use in your calm down corner.

Best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. These posters are available to you to use as sample rules, or you can add your own! Each poster is fully editable. Simply type in your own calm down corner expectations and print!

Explain And Model Your Calm Down Corner Expectations

Once you have an idea of the routine your students would like to follow, it’s time to show them how to use your calm corner. This is something you’ll need to take your time. In fact, you can do a little bit everyday before you’re ready to send your students to your calm corner.
Calm Corner examples
When you’re explaining it to your students, pull out a really soft and almost sneaky voice about your calm corner, you’re going to peak your students interest. So you can say something like “Okay, my friends, I have a special place in my classroom that I’d like to show you today. This place is SO special that I need to teach you how to use it so we keep it as wonderful as it can be.”

After you explain your calm corner, make sure that you cover your calm corner goals. It’s important that your students know your goals first.

And your goals for this area should be to provide a place where your students can identify their feelings, use some calming strategies to regulate their emotions so they can return to their seats, ready to learn. It’s really important that your students know this. That way you are emphasizing that although there are super fun things in this area, it’s not a place to go and play.

Now I want you to model. I want you to act like you’re really sad. I want your students to see you go into your calm corner, set a timer, use some emotions and calming strategies posters, maybe choose a sensory item like a stuffed animal and hug it. And then make sure you take a deep breath and say outloud, “I feel better and I’m ready to join my classmates.”

You might even want to demonstrate how NOT to act in your calm corner. Go in there and roll around! Or pull out all the sensory items and play with them.

After you do this, have a discussion with your students about what they noticed. What went well? What was really making your calm corner a special place? What kinda ruined your calm down corner?

Practice Makes Perfect

Now it’s time to let your students show you that they can go to your calm corner. Ask for a volunteer to show you what it would look like to go to your calm corner if they’re mad. And do it again with frustrated. While they’re demonstrating, point out how you really like that they’re choosing one sensory item at a time.

How do you know if your students are ready for your calm corner? The first time a student goes there can be a little nerve wracking. So pay attention to how they do.

zen den how
If you’re noticing little things you’d like them to change, pull them aside privately and say something like “I’m so glad you tried out the calm corner. Did it work? Did you feel better? I want to remind you that while you’re there to keep an eye on the timer so you know when to come back to your seat.”
But if you notice bigger issues overall that a lot of students are doing – maybe its disrupting your class, or maybe they’re making a mess… have a class discussion about the issue you see. And remember the sneaky voice, “Okay, my friends, remember how our calm corner is a special place? Well, we need to make sure we are keeping it super special. So who can tell me what our calm corner is for?
And add a little humor too, it’s okay! “I noticed that all of our sensory items in our calm corner were all over the place after school. Did a mouse do that while we were at lunch?” With anything you’re teaching, remember that your students are between 5 and 7 years old, and there’s a lot to remember. It’s more worth it to me to remind my students what my expectations are, rather than to get frustrated and give up on the calm corner (and keep my blood pressure down).
These three tips will help you keep your calm corner running functionally in your class. I think you’ll really see how having a calm corner helps your classroom atmosphere stay pretty zen so your students can learn.
XoXo rach

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