Date of Award

Winter 12-7-2023

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Shirley Johnson


self regulation, early childhood, intervention, calm space


Early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers often serve as a resource for classroom teachers, assistants, parents, paraprofessionals, and administration seeking behavioral guidance. Children need to be equipped with strategies to regulate their emotions before they reach the point of outbursts, elopement, shutdowns, or aggressive behavior. Classroom calm-down spaces are essential for all children to take a break and practice self-regulation, initially learning through co-regulation with teachers. This project aims to provide a framework for providing explicit instruction to children to manage their emotions at the earliest signs of dysregulation, enabling them to remain in the learning zone. The project also includes the implementation steps within an inclusive setting, how to equip classrooms with safe spaces and how general education teachers are taught strategies to guide children in practicing their pre-taught calming strategies and offer co-regulation when necessary.

A calm-down space for children to practice strategies and regulate their emotions is respectful to all children. Calm-down spaces align with trauma-informed, safe school practices and positive behavior intervention strategies. Implementation of this project will require various physical items, including a sturdy child-safe wooden cubby, a range of visuals for teaching breathing techniques and calm-down strategies, emotional concept books, simple sensory items, a timer, and professional development handout for classroom teachers and all adults working in the classroom. Funding sources and program collaboration ideas are included as a model for other schools to replicate.



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