The January “Tool of the Month” is “Soothing (Natural) Sounds” This tool can be used in specific situations or can be used as background sounds. Many people use a sound machine to help them go to sleep. They may use a waterfall, chimes or rain to help gently calm their thinking and go to sleep. Other people may use the sounds to help them shift their thinking away from something stressful or to just get themselves in a calm mood. This tool is most often used to go from the Yellow Zone to the Green Zone but can help with other zones too. The website listed here is one example of a place where you get easily get a variety of sounds.
Looking for fun gifts that help to improve motor skills? Check out our suggestions in the toy and gifts section.
The November “Tool of the Month” is “Take a Break.” This Tool can be helpful in times of frustration, sadness, excitement, and/or fatigue. A mental break may provide needed calm or energy. By taking a break from what we are doing, this allows us to refresh our thinking and help to discover another solution to a problem. Parents can guide younger children in when they may need a break and older children can begin to self-advocate when they may need this break.
The Tool of the Month for October is Breathing. This tool can help calm you down if you are in the red, yellow or blue zone. Breathing can also be used as a preventative tool. The most important part of relaxation breathing is to breathe deep and slow. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale slowly through your nose causing your belly hand to rise. Exhale slowly through your mouth then repeat.
We hope your school year is off to a good start! Throughout the year we will continue to have a Tool of the Month to promote self-regulation based on the Zones of Regulation Program. The Program was created by Occupational Therapist Leah Kuypers to teach children to identify how they are feeling and strategies to help them self-regulate. There are four zones: the blue zone (low energy or sad), the green zone (relaxed, content), the yellow zone (a little too much energy, worried or excited), and the red zone (too much energy or angry). See our Zones of Regulation page for more details.
The Tool of the Month for September is Yoga. Yoga helps manage stress, build concentration, increase confidence, improve organization, and regulate breathing. Yoga is a healthy movement break that can be done in any setting. One position to try is the tree pose.
We encourage you to ask your child what the "Tool of the Month" is and try it at home!
We are all familiar with the five senses: taste, touch, vision, hearing, and smell. We also have a movement sense called proprioception that tells us where our body is in space and how much force we are using. Participating in activities that provide heavy work/proprioceptive input to the muscles and joints can be very calming, regulating, and organizing, decreasing stress and anxiety and increasing focus and attention. Heavy work input also helps us better regulate the sensory input coming in from the other sensory systems so we can respond to it more accurately (for example, input like loud noises or the feeling of certain clothing textures). Engaging in heavy work input will help enable your child to follow through with daily activities, such as getting dressed, and following directions. They will also be able to sit still longer because they feel grounded and know where their bodies are.
It is important that the heavy work activities provide the right amount of input for your child. For example, if they are carrying something that is too light, it will not provide any benefit. Conversely, if something is too heavy, it may be frustrating. It is also best to have your child do a functional task. For example, ask them to take something heavy to the kitchen. Possible heavy work activities include: take out the trash and carry a laundry basket to their room, a grocery bag with unbreakable items into the house, a bucket of blocks to the playroom, a pail of water across the backyard, a backpack full of books into the house, or a shopping basket at the store. Carrying heavy items can also be play-based. For example, your child could do turtle walks by placing a large pillow on his back and seeing how long he can crawl around with a “heavy shell” on his back. Using this tool can help children in all zones. Please ask your children to carry a heavy object when you notice they are having difficulty self-regulating.
The Tool of the Month for May is "Take a Walk". Taking a walk can help to boost mood, ease tension, increase enthusiasm, improve energy, enhance focus, and manage stress.
Using this tool can help children in all zones. Please encourage your child to take a walk as a strategy when you notice a change in mood or energy level. You can have your child walk to school, walk to a friend's house or local park, or go on a nature walk after school. Even taking a walk around or inside your house will help!
The Tool of the Month for April is get a drink of water. Drinking plenty of water helps maintain the balance of body fluids that are involved in many important functions including transporting nutrients in the body, regulating body temperature, and digesting food. Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. There are also added health benefits to drinking water, which include flushing out toxins, boosting the immune system, alleviating headaches, and preventing joint and muscle cramps and sprains. When you feel better, you have more energy and are more productive.
Using this tool can help children in all zones. Please encourage your children to get a drink of water when you notice they are having difficulty self-regulating.
The Tool of the Month for March is "Job helper". Giving children jobs can help them feel positive towards themselves. Reminding children of their value as a family member by letting them help out, adds to a feeling of connection and community. It is also a reminder that everyone needs helps at different times, and asking for help or being the helper are both important skills. In addition, being a "job helper" can have the added benefit of giving children a needed brain or movement break, especially if the job involves using their muscles. This tool can be used for "yellow zone" feelings (excited, wiggly, etc.) to help calm the body and mind, or "blue zone" feelings (sad, tired, etc.) to help bring energy up and allow for a brain shift off a worry or sad feelings.
This month, discuss with your child how they can help and give opportunities to do so. Try to incorporate "jobs" into your child's day at home to help build responsibility and confidence. Examples of jobs that provide heavy muscle input include sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, and carrying groceries or a laundry basket.