The Zones of Regulation
The Zones of Regulation® curriculum are lessons and activities designed by Leah Kuypers, licensed occupational therapist, to help students gain skills in the area of self-regulation. Self-regulation can go by many names, such as self-control, self- management, and impulse control. It is defined as the best state of alertness of both the body and emotions for the specific situation. For example, when a student plays on the playground or in a competitive game, it is beneficial to have a higher state of alertness. However, that same state would not be appropriate in the library. The lessons and learning activities are designed to help the students recognise when they are in the different zones as well as learn how to use strategies to change or stay in the zone they are in. In addition to addressing self-regulation, the students will gain an increased vocabulary of emotional terms, skills in reading other people’s facial expressions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, insight into events that trigger their behaviour, calming and alerting strategies, and problem-solving skills. Adapted from The Zones of Regulation®, Leah Kuypers 2011
Why are we using Zones of Regulation in Woodfield school?
A critical aspect of this curriculum is that all team members know and understand The Zones language. This creates a comfortable and supportive environment for the student to practice their self-regulation skills. It also helps the student learn the skills more quickly and be more likely to apply them in many situations. You can support the student during this process by doing the following:
- Use the language and talk about the concepts of The Zones as they apply to you in a variety of environments. Make comments aloud so the student understands it is natural that we all experience the different zones and use strategies to control (or regulate) ourselves. For example, “This is really frustrating me and making me go into the Yellow Zone. I need to use a tool to calm down. I will take some deep breaths.”
- Help the student gain awareness of their zones and feelings by pointing out your observations.
- Validate what zone your students are in and help them brainstorm ways to self-regulate.
- Help the student become comfortable using the language to communicate their feelings and needs by encouraging the student to share their zone with you.
- Show interest in learning about the student’s triggers and Zones tools. Ask the student if they want reminders to use these tools and how you should present these reminders.
- Make sure to positively reinforce students for recognising their zone and managing their behaviours while in it, rather than only pointing out when students are demonstrating unexpected behaviours while in a zone.
It is important to note that everyone experiences all of the zones—the Red and Yellow Zones are not the “bad” or “naughty” zones. All of the zones are expected at one time or another. The Zones of Regulation is intended to be neutral and not communicate judgment.