Calming Routine

In a world that never seems to stop moving, we all need a place to get grounded.

What does this look like in the real world? Recently on a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, I visited an entire room devoted for staff and patient mindfulness. In my classroom, we have the be station. After having many names (Take a Break, Relaxation Station, Think Chair) we have landed on be station. (Thank you to Fallon Henderson!) The thought behind this is that students are allowed to show up however they are and just be.

Here are some tips for creating your own be station.

calming routine

Allow Movement

It is crucial that space is provided for movement. A be station with just a chair, misses the bodywork that we know is so important to creating the ideal relaxed, alert state. If space allows, have a yoga mat on the floor to define the boundary. Limited on space? A simple carpet square will do the trick.

The movement at the heart of my be station is the Move Mindfully® Calming Routine. The students are familiar with this routine because we practice as a whole group 2-5 times a week.

practicing calming routine

The practice is necessary before students are expected to use the movement independently, especially if they are agitated. The Calming Routine is available in a large poster or smaller poster strips. Another option is to have students create their own routine from our Move Mindfully® card deck. Looking for something simpler? We also offer Permission to Pause posters with three movements and a Photo Book with one movement and affirmation per page. Whatever your choice, make sure students have the space and a visual resource that reinforces regulating movement.calming routine
Provide Resources for Breath Work

We recommend every be station includes a Hoberman Sphere. Especially if the sphere is already part of the daily routine, having an extra one in the be station will reinforce the belly breathing strategy. Also, pinwheels can be helpful to encourage a releasing breath.

Tap into the Senses

If your site allows, providing essential oils can be an effective way to shift an unproductive state. We love our Move Mindfully® roller bottle blendAnother option is adding a few drops of peppermint, lavender or wild orange to a spray bottle to give students choice. Visit our doTERRA site to see a complete list of essential oils available.

Nature can be a healing force in our regulation. Having a simple plant or even images of nature can create a grounding effect.

Our Occupational Therapists are a fantastic resource for providing sensory objects for your be station. From soft pillows to worry balls, having a variety of textures available is important.

child's pose

Your special education team may also have headphones available for students with audio sensitivities. Our students that are easily overstimulated with sounds of school day can find a self-soothing effect in noise cancelling headphones. Think about going underwater and hearing all sounds take on a muffled quality. It makes your breathing amplified and is incredibly grounding.

Classroom Management Tips

1. Only one student allowed in the area at a time. No exceptions.

2. The be Station is not for school work. This is a space to reset and refocus for the tasks of the school day, not a flex seating option.

3. Use a sand timer to limit duration. I recommend offering a few different options to give choice.

4. Model. At least once a week, I try to use the be station. In the beginning I’d hear whispers, “Look- Mrs. Kennelly is doing Yoga!” At first, I was doing it for my students- to be a model. However, now… I notice that I am a better teacher after my break! After I recharge I have more patience, energy and a positive attitude. I have even started using the last two minutes of my prep to do the Calming Routine before I pick up my class from specialists.

Are you ready to get started? Visit our store and pick up the be station kit. It has everything you need to put a be station in place. Looking for lesson plans? Our Teachers Pay Teachers store offers a Getting Started Kit with resources and videos to introduce the tools.

Do you use a be station? What works well? Please leave a comment below!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

13 replies
  1. Patti Fisher
    Patti Fisher says:

    Thank you for this post. I am in the process of writing a grant application. I will be using some of this ideas and thoughts to make my request.

    Reply
  2. jane Kahan
    jane Kahan says:

    I am the dance teacher. My space is large and I don’t really have a quiet space set aside- kids can take a break on the carpet. I’d love to hear from any specialists that use a Relaxation Station

    Reply
  3. Anne Bolsem
    Anne Bolsem says:

    We have one of these in our house for our son with ASD, anxiety, and depression to use when he needs to take a sensory break. He picked out a tent from IKEA (the castle one!) and filled it with his special tools for calming down. Inside his tent you will find: a bean bag, a large stuffed animal, a blanket, a weighted exercise ball, a glitter bottle, a gel bag, a strip of velcro (for ripping apart when feeling frustrated), a few fidgets (foam ball, breathing ball, Rubic’s cube, Silly Putty), sound muffling headphones, his iPod, his journal, and a Bible. We also hung a “Size of the Problem” chart, a “How Am I Feeling?” chart, and a list of calming activities to give his visual reminders and control of his body/emotions. Sometimes he chooses to go there on his own, but also have scheduled breaks every 60-90 minutes to help him self-regulate his sensory input.

    I think every family could benefit from having a space like this in their homes! I love it and want to use it myself, but it is HIS special place!

    Reply
  4. Kim Murtaugh
    Kim Murtaugh says:

    I take breaks from my job as a Hospital Social Worker in a large open and sunny lobby area that is rarely used. Fortunately there are some quieting walls that are arranged so that you have a view of the outside but not a view of foot traffic going by. It is amazing the energy that I can rebuild by meditating for a short time and feel that I have so much more to offer to my clients afterwards.

    Reply
  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    This is fantastic! We are in the process of creating something similar for the level III EBD classroom I serve. Great ideas I will pull from! I especially love that each student brought in their own “lovie”! The youth need to be apart of this process!

    Reply
  6. Leah Christianson
    Leah Christianson says:

    I love this all, but I especially love the worry stone idea. Fantastic idea.

    In the Speech/OT room we use the “Airtime Space” from Go Noodle frequently for a calming activity and have had a lot of success with it. We also use “zoo yoga” cards which have great visuals for yoga poses.

    Reply
  7. Joni Iaquinto
    Joni Iaquinto says:

    Thanks for all the reminders of how to create a more peaceful learning environment. I would like a copy of the yoga postures poster. Do you know where I could find it? I am looking forward to creating a space for calming.

    Reply
  8. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    I love this and will share with our planning room (calming room ) para at our elementary school. Love you use all five senses

    Reply
  9. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Yes! We have “PEACEFUL ISLAND” a space with I CAN statements and simple pictures of poses and breathing strategies like child’s pose and belly breathing. But I can’t wait to add a few tools listed here such as oil sprays and worry stones!!!

    Reply

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