What do you think of when you think about a “calm down space?” It can be a space to relax, it can be a part of your happy place, or even just a part of your house that you love. But how can you apply that to a classroom? We talked with Lauren Linahan, an elementary teacher and mom from Austin, Texas to find out how she makes a calm down area for her class, and why it’s important to have one.

Q: What is a “calm down space”?
A: A calm down area is a restorative location in the home or classroom where kids can use tools that they’ve learned to help them regulate their emotions, regain a sense of power, and solve social and emotional problems. I avoid using the word “corner” because of the punitive connection to “going to the corner” or “time out.” A calm down area should be a place of empowerment for kids to practice using their social and emotional tools, regardless of them feeling positive or negative emotions.

Q: What tools should be taught that can help kids in a calm down space?
A: Some of the first tools that I teach are exploring and understanding emotions, and ways to calm down. Understanding emotions is crucial to kids successfully using the calm down space as it will help them choose the best tool to regulate their emotions. Providing kids with different ways to calm down, beyond just counting to 10, gives them control over their experience and gives them ways to personally regulate their emotions.

Q: What does your calm down space look like?
A: My calm down area is an established space in my classroom that we add on to throughout the year. I keep all of the resources for it inside a binder that we can take on-the-go for recess, special areas, field trips, or if kids want to use it at their seat. Once we’ve learned about the tools mentioned in the resources, I hang them up in the calm down corner. We don’t hang them up until we’ve learned about them so I can teach the kids how to use the different tools during lessons and restorative circle time.

Q: Why is it important to have a calm down space in your home or classroom?
A: Having a space for your kids to go helps them in more ways than just understanding their emotions in the moment. I often ask the kids what they would like to discuss in the coming days and weeks, and they are the best to identify a social or emotional classroom community need. Having a calm down space in your home or classroom helps your kids to build confidence in their emotions, and gives them the tools to communicate their feelings and emotions to the people that matter most to them.

You might be wondering what kind of resources work well in a calm down space. You can use a variety of options to accommodate any space in any location. Here are a few suggestions:

Lauren Linahan is a teacher that specializes in Gifted and Talented, English as a Second Language, Social and Emotional Learning, along with Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, and Texas History. She’s passionate about incorporating Social-Emotional Learning into the classroom to empower students to be assertive, compassionate people. When she’s not in the classroom, she’s a mom of two and enjoys visiting cultural, ecological, and historically significant places. Click here to learn more about Lauren and follow her on Facebook and Instagram for other great teacher tips!