iServi News | 6 September 2019 | Term 3, Week 7
In the last 10 years researchers have noted the importance of teaching self regulation skills. We now know that emotions are connected to every part of the teaching and learning process and that they serve as a powerful vehicle for either enhancing or inihibiting learning.
Negative emotions, for example, can reduce working memory which is the memory system used for holding and manipulating information while various mental tasks are carried out. This is one of the reasons that students who feel anxious about an exam are unable to recall information quickly and easily and often, after the exam, say “I knew that information but just couldn’t answer it”.
We also know that when a student feels under stress that the majority of the brain shuts down and it reverts to survival mode, so a student becomes defensive and attention-seeking. If a student feels happy, positive and supported with their learning they are open to learning new concepts and ideas. According to self regulation expert Dr Stuart Shanker, there are three main ways to help children improve self regulation:
- Identify and reduce stressors
- Develop self-awareness about shifts in energy
- Teach and encourage self regulation techniques, especially deep breathing, using meditation, exercise and improving sleep patterns.
In our work with Berry Street Education we are conscious about providing the structure and tools for learning so that all our students are ‘learning ready’. This means that we will be explicitly teaching the skills of self regulation and impulse control, including giving our students different strategies to use, when needed, to ensure that they are ‘ready to learn’.
We are currently reviewing and rewriting our pastoral care program to ensure that lessons focus on identification of emotions, how to articulately and calmly express these emotions and the tools of deescalating when our emotions threaten to overwhelm our ‘thinking brain’. We will be writing more about this in Term 4 as we develop our program for 2020 and will be giving examples of self regulation strategies you can use at home, such as mindfulness activities, to support what we are doing in the classroom.
In this ‘Maggie Moment’, parenting author, educator and mother of four adult sons Maggie Dent talks about the challenge of self-regulation and how to help our children regulate their emotions. She outlines what helps kids with self-regulation and what doesn’t.
Ms Roseanne Madden