By Kathy Bockhorst
Thanks to a Medfield Coalition for Public Education grant, partially funding sensory motor items, the new Wheelock Break Space has been a busy place at Wheelock. This fall I have been able to offer all teachers the option to sign students up for one of several small group supervised break space visit with me, each day I am at Wheelock. Teachers can sign-up different students each week or choose to send the same students several times. Each visit lasts roughly ten minutes and focuses on making students aware of their ability to self-regulate. The break space visits I run begin with the students identifying which “zone” they are in (Blue - sad, bored tired, Green - happy, calm, ready to learn, Yellow - silly, excited, frustrated or Red - out of control, from “The Zones of Regulation” by Leah Kuypers). The students are then free to choose from the many sensory items in the room, including a spinning egg chair, a tunnel, scooter and ramp, building manipulatives, yoga balls and a gym mat. Some groups have worked together to set up an obstacle course. The Break Space is an “expected” space for students to be in the “Yellow Zone”, feeling excited and energized. After about 7 mins of movement the students are again asked to identify which “zone” they are in. The lights are then dimmed and the students are guided in a simple deep breathing exercise, thereby engaging in a strategy for returning to the “green zone”. Many other adults are sharing the break space with students each day. It is a wonderful addition to Wheelock!