In the Full-Day Kindergarten program, it is essential to give children the tools to help them self-regulate. The day is long, and often the noise and energy escalates as the day goes on. We talk about how we are feeling each morning at sharing circle. This provides us with an opportunity to listen to the children and to find out if they have had a difficult morning or maybe a sleepless night. It also allows the children an opportunity to reflect on how they are feeling – monitoring this each day when we come together as a group.
Dr. Stuart Shanker is a renowned expert on self-regulation. He provides information on the topic in various forms that are available on the internet or in his book, Calm, Alert and Learning (2012)
Other resources on self-regulation, include:
Canadian Self-regulation Initiative http://www.self-regulation.ca/
Kindergarten Matters – Self-regulation http://resources.curriculum.org/secretariat/kindergarten/selfregulating.html
In our classroom, we talk about how fast our “engines are running” and whether we need to slow them down or not. We also talk about various strategies to calm down. In late November, we started yoga breathing with the children. We would do a few poses, but mostly concentrate on the breathing. Now, after lunch each day, we close the curtains and the children find a quiet space in the room to lie down on their backs. We provide pillows or small blankets if they want. We then walk around and place one glass stone on their forehead – it provides a focus and keeps wiggling bodies from moving and dislodging the glass stone. At times we play classical music or relaxing sounds of ocean waves. Other times we may talk about visualization; imagining lying on a beach in the warm sand or in a park in the cool grass. Two or three children usually fall asleep during this time, and if they do, we leave them to rest while we quietly get up and resume our activities at learning centres. The children continue with their play in the afternoon, but they have had the opportunity for quiet and peace in their hectic day. Children are recognizing how they feel after these opportunities for relaxation, and now ask the teachers, “Can we do yoga today?” or “When will we lie down and put the stones on our foreheads?” This shows that the children are recognizing when they need to implement self-regulation strategies to help them be successful in their day.