The summer after this year I went to my first conference on Dr. Bailey’s Conscious Discipline. She spoke about the importance of making children feel safe, that in order for a child to open their mind to learning, they first had to feel safe. When she started talking about a Safe Place in the room, I began to understand the science behind why my experience with the little boy in my room had been a success. Because of this experience it has been a passion of mine to help children understand the importance of self regulation and utilizing many of the tools Dr. Bailey gives teachers through her Conscious Discipline teachings.
In teaching my preschool class about using the safe space, it has been important to make sure the children understand that the safe space is not a place to go because they are in trouble. It is a place to go when you feel upset, frustrated, or out of control in order to calm and refocus. Many times, children will need reminders that going to the safe spot will help them and returning to the group plan when they feel better is their choice.
I have used a safe space in all the classrooms I have taught in from preschool to 5th grade. We all have a bad day now and then, we need children to understand that this is normal and all right. What we do when we feel this way is something we can control. After my classes on Dr. Bailey’s Conscious Discipline, I now include, in addition to my original items, picture cards of breathing techniques, pictures or objects showing the emotions we could be feeling, and sensory toys in my safe space. It is important to remember that each child is different and that going to the safe space for some will be to take a break and breath, for others it may be that they need to talk to a teacher, even others may need a place to get wiggles or emotions out.
The times my safe spot has been the most successful and helpful have been when a child needs to feel safe to experience their feelings, emotions, and body reactions. Teaching children that all of these things are ok and that they are safe to experience them in your presence is of true importance.
~ Amy Stedman - PKC Teacher