Move and modulate: My trauma informed tool for helping students regulate

This year I was fortunate enough to attend many virtual conferences and PD’s on trauma-informed practices and behavior. I was also lucky enough to have an administration team that supports all my ideas, including making a space for students to move and modulate.

As the year has gone on, I have tuned my movement room based on all the knowledge I have gained. I learned that scheduled breaks also need to be structured breaks! Simple and powerful.

This idea helped develop my Move and Modulate activity pack. It’s designed to provide structure and routine for students that need help modulating.

4 step process

  • Gross motor activities to help engage the body and start to regulate muscles and the mind
  • Fine motor activities that help students modulate and start to calm down the amygdala
  • Thinking activities that gently engage the PFC
  • Planning questions that help students reflect on behavior and take the next steps towards engagement

My activity set is designed to be a step by step process in helping students individually or as a whole group move and regulate their bodies and minds. The 4 steps take students through gross motor activities, fine motor activities, gentle engagement of the PFC, and then a mindful and restorative planning process.

1) Move Your Body

These are gross motor activities designed to help students move their bodies and begin to regulate.

The movements should be patterned and predictable. For example, they always go through the same sequence upon entering the movement room or they do the same number each time (5 or 10).

Tip: Try to move synchronously with the student to build the relationship.

2) Modulate Down

These are fine motor skills that also need to be patterned. They provide a brain break and should not be overly frustrating.

Tip:Choose activities that students will be successful at.

3) Activate Thinking

These a brain break activities designed to engage the PFC in a gentle way. They include activities that can ask students to list or name.

Tip: These set can be for whole class, small group, or individual students. Practice with your Tier 2 and Tier 3 students in all settings.

4) Make A Plan

These activities are designed to help plan for what’s next. They are the “next steps forward.” That might mean how to “repair the harm” or re-enter class in a way that aligns with your restorative practice program. It might also mean just getting back to business.

If students are using the break room for scheduled breaks, use the activity cards that help them continue making positive choices and not the cards designed to make amends.  You may also choose to read a social story about positivity here.

Tip: Any plan that involves restitution and resolution should be comfortable for all parties. They are designed to help restore the feeling of community.

How to use:

The set includes materials to make:

1) Lap books

2) A sensory path

3) Individual packs for individualized breaks

4) Bulletin boards for classrooms

5) Movement /Calming room activities

You can use this 4 step process in a movement room, as a whole class break, or for individuals who need predetermined breaks or a break to help them regulate.

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