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Zones of Regulation

​The students at Cookstown Central Public School participate in The Zones of Regulation curriculum (or “The Zones” for short), which are lessons and activities designed by Leah Kuypers, licensed occupational therapist. These lessons help students gain skills in the area of self-regulation.

Self-regulation can go by many names, such as self-control, self- management, and impulse control. It is defined as the best state of alertness of both the body and emotions for the specific situation. For example, when a student plays on the playground or in a competitive game, it is beneficial to have a higher state of alertness. However, that same state would not be appropriate in the library. The lessons and learning activities are designed to help the students recognize when they are in the different zones as well as learn how to use strategies to change or stay in the zone they are in.

In addition to addressing self-regulation, students at Cookstown are developing an increased vocabulary of emotional terms, skills in reading other people’s facial expressions, perspective about how others see and react to their behavior, insight into events that trigger their behavior, calming and alerting strategies, and problem solving skills.

A critical aspect of this curriculum is that all team members, including parents, know and understand The Zones language. This creates a comfortable and supportive environment for the student to practice his or her self-regulation skills. It also helps the student learn the skills more quickly and be more likely to apply them in many situations.

You can support your child during this process by doing the following:

  • Use the language and talk about the concepts of The Zones as they apply to you in a variety of environments.

  • Make comments aloud so the student understands it is natural that we all experience the different zones and use strategies to control (or regulate) ourselves. For example, “This is really frustrating me and making me go into the Yellow Zone. I need to use a tool to calm down. I will take some deep breaths.”

  • Help your child gain awareness of his or her zones and feelings by pointing out your observations.

  • Talk about what zone is “expected” in the situation or how a zone may have been “unexpected.”

  • Share with your child how his or her behavior is affecting the zone you are in and how you feel.

  • Help your child become comfortable using the language to communicate his or her feelings and needs by encouraging the student to share his or her zone with you.

  • Show interest in learning about your child’s triggers and Zones tools. Ask your child if they want reminders to use these tools and how you should present these reminders.

  • Make sure you frequently reinforce your child for being in the expected zone rather than only pointing out when his or her zone is unexpected.

It is important to note that everyone experiences all of the zones—the Red and Yellow Zones are not the “bad” or “naughty” zones. All of the zones are expected at one time or another. The Zones of Regulation is intended to be neutral and not communicate judgment.