North Side Elementary School in the Ellwood City Area School District now has a place for students to “chill out.”
More than a meeting place, the Chill Room has a specific objective to promote positive social emotional awareness.
Debbie Wiech, K-2 school counselor and K-12 community liaison, said the room was meant to help students regulate their emotions. The room is part of the district’s cognitive-behavioural plan and goes hand-in-hand with the district’s affirmative action program.
“We teach children how to regulate their emotions,” Wiech said. “To be able to get out of their head and work on how they feel.”
The Chill Room was made possible by a $15,000 grant from the Highmark Foundation, which the district matched to provide the soothing and relaxing room.
Its specific purpose is to be a sensory area when emotions run high or can also be used to reward students for good behavior.
“The room provides a safe space for students to be happy, angry, sad, or whatever they’re feeling and to regulate those feelings,” Wiech said.
Described as soothing and relaxing, the room offers a wealth of sensory stimulation. When the students enter the room, there is immediately a different atmosphere from that of the classroom. Lights are dimmed, there are sensory electronics, bubble tanks that run along the walls for a soothing effect, a corner seat with mirrors and bubbles, voice-activated lights that get brighter as you go. voices get louder, gel floor mats, a nesting swing, a ground sheet, and other items that allow students to use their physical abilities, such as a soft balance beam and small “devices “agitated. Many items are tactile and some are strictly for visual/soothing stimulation.
Wiech said the pandemic has given him time to explore options the district can add to its affirmative action program as well as grant writing.
So, so far according to Wiech, the play has been well received.
“Kids love the bedroom,” she said.
Wiech said the room will get a little more work, including painting and determining the rules. Teachers will also participate in the training. She looks forward to seeing the impact the room has on the students.
“We want them to be able to calm down,” she said. “Children don’t know how to regulate. We have to be able to provide them with the ability to do that. These days, the kids are late, and the parents are late. We don’t have the stamina for all of this after the pandemic. Calm is good. We are not looking for Zen, we are just looking for regulation.
Wiech said that although the piece is new, the theme behind it is not new.
This joins what we are already doing with the cognitive-behavioral atmosphere and the positive action plan.
In other news/events at North Side Primary.
- Kindergarten registration will take place April 11-13 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday.
- North Side Primary will hold ‘Careers Week’ from May 2-6, with different career activities taking place at each grade level. A Parent Career Day will take place on Thursday May 5 – where over 15 careers will be on display and parents will present to children aged 5, 6, 7 and 8.
- Grade 2 students on the North Side will send out invitations to a “lemonade stand” later in May. During Career Week, Grade 2 students will learn about business plans and budgets, resume writing, and career building. They will then put the knowledge developed into a real stand (project-based learning) towards the end of May. Zach Dugan’s class at Lincoln is creating the current booth and teachers and 2nd graders will be running it for 3 days towards the end of May.