Right before my second year of teaching preschool, my director informed me that I was going to have a student in my classroom that was a runner and a biter. As I was preparing for that year and setting up my classroom, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I was going to help this little boy with his self regulation. I decided to create a safe spot.
I put a small comfy chair with a little table behind my desk. On the table I placed some of our social/emotional books, a visual timer, and a small tank with frogs. The first day, I had it arranged with the office for this little boy to make his first run, and he did at the first transition in our day. I used my radio to call the office, they tracked him on the cameras and told me where to go to find him. When I located the little boy, I told him how happy I was to find him and that he had really scared me when he left the room.
I asked him to return to class with me and he held my hand to walk back to the room. As we walked I told him that it is not safe to leave our classroom without the teacher, but I had a place in the room he could go to if he wanted to get away. I asked him if I could show it to him when we got back. I showed him the safe spot and because I knew he really liked to play with our toy trains, I asked him if he wanted to keep one of our toy trains on the table. From that moment on he did not leave the classroom without a teacher and/or the class.
He would run to the safe spot every time we cleaned up stations for group time or transitioned to a non-preferred activity. I could tell that even from the safe spot he was listening to everything that was going on. Eventually he started blurting from the safe spot answers to questions I was asking the group. I told him that I’d love to hear what he wanted to share if he would join us at the carpet. As the first month turned into the second he spent less and less time in the safe spot, by the third month the safe spot was only being used when any student needed a break, whether it was because of something that happened or just an “I miss Mommy” day. This little boy never bit anyone in my room.
Stay Tuned for Part 2! ~ Amy Stedman - PKC Teacher / Endless Mountain Learning Center, INC.