Morning Star School offers emotional management classes

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ORLANDO, Fla. – The Morning Star School, a school for special-needs students in Orlando, is now offering a program called The Zones of Regulation schoolwide to help students learn how to manage their emotions.

Behavior analyst Sheri Wantuck said the program gives kids skills they can use from kindergarten into adulthood. Zones of Regulation classifies feelings into four color zones. The goal is always to get back to green.

"So red zone is anger, yelling, body kind of out of control. Blue zone, we call it the rest stop zone. You're tired, bored sick, sleepy, those sort of things. Any of those feelings are valid, any of those zones are OK. it's what you do in those zones and how you get back to the green zone of feeling," Wantuck said.

Wantuck visits each classroom for 30 minutes weekly. Students give examples of how they feel in each zone. For example, in the yellow zone, a person may feel worried, frustrated or silly. Wantuck said lessons involve filling the students' "toolboxes" with techniques to get back to the green zone. That can include deep breathing, or tactile tools like squeeze balls.
"That that they can go for a walk. They can go get something to drink. They can talk to their teachers. They can talk to their friends; they're really great about talking to their friends," she said.
"It's a really good idea that my school teaches me that stuff to manage how I feel," student Jonathan Shuker said.
Bonnie Pearson, 17, said she often finds herself in the yellow zone, but it comforts her knowing she can always return to feeling happy.
"It amazes me to see how god is working in her heart to teach people where they're at and how to feel happy," she said.
Wantuck says because the Zones of Regulation is taught schoolwide, parents, teachers and students all use the same language to communicate about feelings.
"It feels great to hear them telling their teacher, 'I'm in the blue zone right now,' and I don't care that they're telling me they're bored. They might be in my lesson and be like, 'I'm in the blue zone I'm so bored,' but it makes me so happy they're able to express that to me."
Wantuck tells us soon the school plans to implement "zen" areas in each classroom for when students feel like they need a break.


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