Our tent has been working wonders for the emotional self-regulation of our students. During a neutral (calm) moment, each child was given an individual lesson on how to use it. Here are our rules for the tent.
- Only 1 person can use the tent at a time
- You can only use the tent when you a very sad or very angry
- You may not play in the tent
- You must leave the tent once you are feeling calm
So far everyone has been using the tent more or less correctly and it has been beautiful to watch the children manage their own emotions. Whenever Lily or I noticed a child is feeling very sad or mad, we would ask them how they are feeling, then remind them that they can use the tent to feel calmer. I think the children enjoy the tent because they get to calm down in their own area; as opposed to our calm down chair which was exposed to the classroom. I believe the publicity of the calm down chair made some children feel self-conscious and even more upset about having big emotions.
Sometimes when a child is having a tantrum Lily or I will just guide them over to the tent. We can hear him calm down as soon as he closes the flaps to the tent, and a few moments later he pops out ready to talk about what made him upset.
At some point this week our Director and Instructional Coach, Joyce, observed our morning work cycle. She made note that our tent resembled the teepees of people Indigenous Americans. We were asked to remove our tent due to it being a form of cultural appropriation.
I love that my school respects people of all walks of life, and let us know that something in our classroom may be offensive. Lily and I have begun to feel that the tent is crucial to the emotional development of our students, and decided to figure out how to respectfully keep it. Lauren emailed Joyce and the families of our students, to explain the use of our tent and the changes it has brought to our classroom. After one small modification, we have been allowed to keep our tent.
Hooray for calm down spaces!
Do you think our tent may still be offensive after our modification?
What types of calm down spaces do you have in your classrooms?