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The school teaching kids to manage their own emotions

Already recognised for its outstanding wellbeing programme, Chinthurst School has taken things even further with the introduction of a curriculum that teaches children how to manage their emotions. And it's paying off.

pupil at Chinthurst School in Tadworth

Pastoral care and the wellbeing of pupils is one of the most important aspects of a child’s schooling – a fact that’s only been amplified since Covid became a part of our world. And while any school worth its salt will have a pastoral care programme in place, some schools – like Chinthurst School in Tadworth – are taking it a step further and teaching children how to regulate their own emotions.

When pupils returned to school after the Covid lockdown, Chinthurst introduced a new curriculum to support its Wellbeing at Heart programme called the Zones of Regulation Framework.

And while the name might seem unwieldy, the premise is quite simple: to teach children to understand and learn to manage their emotions.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Zones of Regulation.

sharpened coloured pencils lined up in a row

What are the Zones of Regulation?

The curriculum was developed by Leah Kuypers, an occupational therapist who specialises in self-regulation and social learning.

There are four zones to assist children in categorising their emotions – blue, green, yellow and red – and specially prepared lessons help them to understand emotional triggers and equip them with the tools they need to stay calm and how to see things from other people’s perspectives.

There are no ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ zones and the children learn that it is perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions. The key is for them to understand how to recognise when it would be beneficial to change the zone they are in, and how they might do this.

The Red Zone

This zone is is used to describe an extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions – this ranges from feeling elated to a child experiencing anger, rage, devastation or terror. 

The Yellow Zone

Like the Red Zone, Yellow is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions, but the child has more control when they are in the Yellow Zone.  They may be experiencing frustration or excitement, stress or silliness, anxiety or nervousness.

The Green Zone

The Green zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. This means children are calm, focused, happy, or ready to learn. It’s also the state you want your child to be in when they are learning.

The Blue Zone

If a child is feeling blue, they’re in the Blue Zone. It’s used to describe down feelings such as when children are sad, tired, sick or bored.

How it works

The Zones of Regulation curriculum uses resources like pictures and visuals to help pupils identify their feelings and understand how their behaviour impacts what’s around them.

Through activities, they learning what tools they can use to regulate their zones. For example, when the children are in a maths or English lesson, they will want to feel focused and calm, but out on the playground they may be excited, loud, and full of energy.

The results

Zones of Regulation is now part of everyday practice at Chinthurst and fully woven into the wellbeing programme. It supports the school’s aim of ensuring the children have the skills, space and time to be happy.

Already the children have developed an increased vocabulary of emotional terms and significantly improved their ability to read other people’s facial expressions, and spot the zones that others are in. They are gaining an insight into events that trigger certain behaviours and looking at a wide range of calming and alerting strategies.

Chinthurst is an independent co-educational day school and nursery for children aged 2-11 years in Tadworth. It has with a strong family-friendly vibe and a big emphasis on community. Read the full review here. The next open day is Wed 16 March. Register here.

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