Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation

St. Pat's is now in the ZONE!


In January, we started introducing the Zones of Regulation. What is Zones? Well, the Zones of Regulation is a way that we are helping our students regulation their emotions and behaviour through being more self-aware. Once a student understands how they feel and how how to identify the emotions of others, they can then determine a strategy that will help them get into the "expected" zone for that situation.

The goals of The Zones of Regulation curriculum are for students to learn:

  • How to recognize emotions in themselves and others
  • About triggers which cause them to move between Zones
  • Strategies to assist moving between the different Zones
  • Problem solving strategies

All zones are ok! All feelings are ok! Remember, we make others feel comfortable and safe when we are in the expected zone at the expected time.

In general, the ideal zone to be in is the GREEN zone. It is the "go zone" where we tend to be happy, energized yet calm, alert and most importantly, ready to learn. Our brains and bodies are relaxed and focused in the green zone. It is the zone where we make others around us feel comfortable and in turn, help others remain in the green zone too. 

What happens when we aren't in green? The BLUE zone is the "slow zone" and is when a person is feeling low energy. Sadness, being hurt, tired, depressed, bored, and exhausted are emotions typical for the blue zone. Learning is more difficult in the blue zone and when we're in the classroom, it is unexpected behaviour. However, the blue zone IS expected before bedtime and when you wake up in the morning - or perhaps if you are sick. But it's not a zone we want to stay in for long. This means when we're in the blue zone, we have to figure out how to get into the learning zone by using alerting tools. Things like an energetic walk, a cold drink of water, or 10 jumping jacks might do the trick!

In the YELLOW zone, we have a heightened state of energy. We might even be a little bit out of control of how we feel. This zone is where feelings like worry, excitement, scared, overwhelmed, frightened and being silly tend to happen. This zone is typical for students to be in when they are at recess playing with their friends, or perhaps when they are playing in a soccer game. However, it's not the expected behaviour in the classroom. As well, when students are in the yellow zone for a given situation, they can make others feel uncomfortable because of the unexpected behaviour - and even encourage others to get out of the green zone. 

In the RED zone, emotions can be out of control, and very unexpected for a situation. Anger, yelling, hitting, being mad, frightened are some of the feelings that happen in the red zone. However, elation, or extreme excitement also fits in the red zone. In many circumstances the red zone emotions tend to be unexpected - however, there are situations where the red zone is expected. For example, scoring the game winning goal may make a person feel elated! And that would be an expected reaction to that situation. But if a child is angry and hits brother because they didn't get their favourite toy would be unexpected behaviour in that situation and is NOT helpful. 

So, when you're out of the green zone, how do we support children to regulate their emotions and behaviour? Now comes the task of helping students learn ways to change their zone. In effect, we start to build a toolbox, full of great ways to help students regulate their behaviour. It's also all about choices - each child will find that some tools work better for them than others.