According to the CDC, about two-thirds of all children will experience some kind of adverse childhood event (ACE), or in other words, will be affected by childhood trauma. An ACE decreases a child’s neurological ability to self-regulate, through no fault of their own. Recent research shows that children (and adults) must regulate themselves at a basic level before being able to form relationships or learn. With the current global pandemic disrupting daily life, causing extreme stress and fear, new grief, and increased rates of domestic violence, the projected ACE scores of children are, dishearteningly, projected to rise even more. This will lead to a greater need for children to have help regulating in the classroom, so that they then may learn. It is more important now than ever that teachers have the resources to help students learn to do that regulation.
The Brain-Based Regulation Bins will allow teachers to create spaces where students can take breaks, self-regulate through a variety of calming somatosensory inputs, and then have the chance to connect with their instructor, their peers, and the curriculum. Each bin has materials that provide regulation through a variety of neuroscience-based activities. For example, squishy balls, yoga cards, coloring pages, and scratch sheets allow for rhythmic, repetitive motions; tactile grounding comes from weighted blankets, textured stuffed animals, and putty; and soothing visual input comes from kaleidoscopes and bubblers. All of these materials were suggested during presentations on regulation at the Trauma Informed Schools Conference (TISC) Fall 2019.
Students will be able to spend 5-15 minutes, depending on their needs, using these materials to feel regulated and safe in the classroom. These kinds of activities will soothe the parts of the brain that inhibit learning and connection when a student is feeling distress. After a short break, students are far more likely to be able to communicate with an instructor, focus on a lesson, or even just control their body--all desirable outcomes in our school.