Chicago Friends School
At Twenty-One Senses, we help schools, businesses, and families understand the importance of regulation, especially those with sensory needs. Post covid we are seeing many children struggle with regulation, emotions, and interactions in large groups. In short, most children are struggling with the adjustment of getting back into the classroom.
This has been a topic many educators are talking about, specifically how to develop self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills (SEL) in classrooms. What they often overlook is how the environment affects those things. They haven’t been trained on what to watch for and how to help kids who are struggling to regulate based on environmental factors. Schools are working towards creating a space where the children learn how to identify their needs and emotions while providing a safe environment where children can get away from environmental triggers.
Recently, I was privileged to visit one such school. Chicago Friends School in Edgewater has created a learning environment that not only educates the students with core subjects such as math, science, and English but they also are very mindful of the child’s well-being from a regulation standpoint. As I met the staff and children, I couldn’t help noticing that all the children were very happy, and there was a sense of peace and nurture in every classroom.
Chicago Friends School has taken the time to create calm corners in every indoor space where the children will be throughout their day. Many parents understand each child is different and have unique needs. The calm corners at Chicago Friends School have very thoughtful and comforting items such as headsets, fidgets, blankets, bean bag chairs, vocabulary posters, and activities that help a child calm down, re-regulate, and better express their emotions. The best part of these calm corners is that they introduce a sense of privacy. Each classroom does this in a different way; however, they all have a common goal, to give the child privacy while they are feeling all of their emotions.
Calm corners are never a punishment but rather a resource each child can use. A teacher may remind their students that the calm corner is available, but it is ultimately up to the child whether they would like to use it.
Mental health is an important part of being your best self. Individuals flourish when you are understood and encouraged to take a moment to work through your anxiety, frustration, and emotions. Chicago Friends School is an exemplary example of what all schools should be doing in terms of supporting their students not only academically and from an SEL perspective but also how to support their students’ nervous systems (regulation engine). The small act of creating a space where students can be themselves in a safe space has an enormous impact on the lives of the students and their ability to learn.
Learn more about Chicago Friends School