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PACEs in Early Childhood

Teaching Kids to Understand Self Regulation and Responsibility


Sample Lesson from Superkid Power

Teaching Kids to Understand Self Regulation and Responsibility

Key concepts from the curriculum are how to breathe deeply to stay calm and how to use that inner calm to control how to respond to whatever is going on around you. 

First, we teach how to take deep breaths using a 3D prop, called the breathing sphere, that expands and contracts to represent the lungs and diaphragm filling with air along with the teacher counting out the beats of Inhale..1..2..3..4. Hold your breathe..1…2.. and Exhale….1….2….3.  This teaches deep belly button breathing as the basis for staying calm.   Each child takes a turn opening and closing the breathing sphere mimicking the sphere with their own breathing so they immediately start to feel and appreciate self awareness and the power of self control.  It gives them something to concentrate on for the impending commotion exercise.

Next, we tell them that we are going to test their ability to use the breathing exercise to stay calm while there is a large amount of distraction all around them.  We call this ‘staying calm in the middle (or eye) of a storm’.  Each child will have a chance to stay calm in the middle while the rest of the class makes noise and chaos all around them.  We create the commotion by giving everyone in the outer circle a colored punch balloon and instruct them to punch and run and make as much noise as possible.

Each student gets to be the 'eye' of the storm and remain calm by using the breathing sphere to ignore the noise (the storm) brewing all around them. The exercise is essential towards teaching independent action and responsibility and reliance on use of the calming effect of ongoing breathing.  The kids love it.

An important part of experiential learning is to gather feedback that confirms the teaching exercise was understood by the students.  One way to do this is to use ‘body outline’ artwork that allows the kids to express how they were feeling during the eye of the storm exercise. The kids use the body outline to show where the stress is (all around them, denoted by 'X's') and where they feel calm (their heart/their body).  The fact that they can graphically show all the external stress surrounding them and separate that stress from how they are maintaining a calm reaction inside themselves documents they have learned the lesson.

As further evidence that SuperKid Power lessons are working comes from the verbal feedback volunteered by the students. Here's a child's testimonial from a 5 yr. old boy in class: "My Dad gets mad at me all the time and yells real bad, even when it's not my fault.  He always says he's sorry the next day.  Now I know what to do when he's mean to me.  I take a bunch of deep breaths instead of getting upset back." 

The SuperKid Power Guidebook contains 52 similar life skill lessons that are all constructed to use the above ‘3D’ approach.  This means kids get to hear, see and feel a choreographed experience and then express their feeling on paper to show what they have learned.   

Janai encourages strong listening and communication skills.  Setting expectations with her 5 and 6 year olds that they have feelings and goals that can be articulated and shared is important to her.  She believes resilience skills can be taught and her role is to provide a safe environment and nurturing exercises.  Using artwork also provides feedback to the youngsters that their teacher cares enough about them to treat them with mutual respect and appreciation for making the effort to document their thoughts.

Janai Mestrovich, Ashland, OR, (BS/MS, Family & Child Development) has been teaching Early Childhood Education and Social/Emotional Learning for 42 years. She specializes in '3D' experiences, like the eye of the storm exercise, that help her students visualize and feel the lesson as part of the SuperKid Power curriculum.  

SuperKid Artwork Examples for ‘Eye of the Storm’


Images (6)
  • boy with breathing sphere
  • Calm Storm 1
  • Calm Storm 2
  • Calm Storm 3
  • Calm Storm 4
  • Calm Storm 5

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