Calm Down Basket
Often when young kids act out, it is a call for skill building. The child is telling us, “I am overwhelmed. I don’t have the tools to calm myself down.” When we can help a child find the tools she needs, we are setting her up for long-term success.
The calm down basket is a small collection of items the children have been taught to use that can help to self-regulate when needed. Explain that any time a child is feeling overwhelmed she can choose to use something from the Calm Down Basket to help. Often a child will just need a few minutes alone to accomplish this. Taking a moment, and adjusting what you are doing is the skill of self-regulation!
In introducing the calm down basket, we practice each tool together with the guard dog, and ultimately with all three puppets. Having practiced a few times, the Guard dog exclaims that it is feeling much better, and the owl and elephant take deep breaths and declare they are back and ready to do their jobs.
The basket stays in a strategic spot in the classroom, and the teacher is encouraged to practice with kids daily directing them to it when they need help settling. The chime is also used daily by the teacher to start circle time, and for moments of transition. A lovely book to accompany this concept is Calm Down Time, by Marieka Heinlen.
How To Use Calm Down Basket:
Start by letting the kids examine the
items in the Calm Down Basket when you introduce it. Pass it around, let them all take turns holding each of the items, and using each appropriately. The point of this is to take the mystery out of the items. If you can get them to grow accustomed to the concept of self-calming and familiarize themselves with the tools, they’re more likely to lose some of that intrigue.
How and when the kids choose to go to the basket is up to the teacher. There may be children who need to access the basket more frequently. You can say that sometimes you’ll recommend the basket if it seems like they have a big feeling, and sometimes they can choose to go there themselves. We do want kids to learn to identify their emotions and make that determination on their own. That said, at the very beginning of introducing this idea they may need teacher guidance on the right time to go.