In December 2020, The Perkiomen Valley School District Foundation approved $7,900 for Guidance Counselor Ms. Amy Moss’s grant for Calm Down Corners to implement within all classrooms at South Elementary School. Ms. Moss, with the support of principal Mr. Daivid D’Andrea, piloted the Calm Down Corners in the 2019-20 school year in a few first, second, and third-grade classrooms. After positive results, Ms. Moss applied for a grant to make Calm Down Corners available in all classrooms at South Elementary School.
A Calm Down Corner is a safe space, or area, located within the classroom that students can use to regulate their physical or emotional state, take a short break or reset without leaving the classroom. Calm Down Corners are not meant to serve as punishments but rather give students the opportunity (driven by their choice or by their teacher’s suggestion) to help themselves feel better when needed. It gives students an appropriate and accessible way to respond appropriately to big emotions. Ms. Moss highlighted that the Calm Down Corners create inclusivity because they are accessible to all students, not just students with emotional needs. It also maintains a students’ dignity by not making a student leave the classroom but allowing a place to reset when they may need a break. “By allowing students to practice emotional regulation in the classroom, we are strengthening relationships and sending a message to students that they belong in our community and that we value their social-emotional health as much as their academic achievement.”
COVID-19 threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, including the implementation of Calming Corners. Some teachers were able to utilize their Calming Corners. Mrs. Meyer, a second-grade teacher, has her Calming Corner ready to go, and her class is loving it. She themed hers with a pirate tent and some pirate items. Riley shared with us, “You use the Calming Corner if you’re feeling frustrated or can’t focus.” In Mrs. Meyer’s class, students show they need to use the Calming Corner by raising their hand in the letter “C” formation. Mrs. Meyer responds by holding up one finger or five fingers, indicating how much time a student can spend in the Calming Corner. Chelsea, “I used the noise-canceling headphones. They were really quiet and helped calm me down.”
Ms. Moss and all the teachers at South Elementary School are looking forward to having the Calming Corner in full swing during the 2021 – 22 school year.