a must-have tool for every home
We had a wonderful yet very challenging time homeschooling last year. Most of the time, I found myself really enjoying being Mommy-Teacher, so my husband and I decided to homeschool again. We now have a first-grader and a preschooler. Can you imagine the chaos? I can, haha!
My number one takeaway as a homeschooling mom so far is this: FEELINGS MATTER. Emotions affect our learning dynamics in such a big way! Whether it’s my 6-year old feeling upset about a sudden change in schedule, or my 4-year old feeling cranky because of an interrupted nap, or worse, both of them acting up over something they both want—their feelings matter. The worst is when my feelings are in the mixture too—imagine if all three of us are frustrated! We can’t go on, we can’t get any work done.
Needless to say, our emotions have to be recognized, heard, and seen. Then in time, these “big feelings” have to be managed and regulated.
Some might expect that being the adult, I am an expert at controlling my emotions already! On the contrary, I find myself experiencing new “big feelings” as a parent-teacher. I get frustrated, angry, upset, disappointed! Being tired or lacking sleep aggravates these negative feelings.
So I always try to remember that if I, being the grown-up, find it hard to control myself, then my little girls–whose immature brains just can’t regulate their emotions yet–are for sure struggling with their big emotions more than I am.
That’s why, the first material/tool I introduced this schoolyear is our CALM DOWN BOX. I would have wanted to have an actual “calm down corner” but we dont have a place for that right now. So I decided we’ll start by having an accessible box and whoever needs to use it can just take it and stay where ever she feels comfortable.
Creating a calm down box is really very simple and using it is pretty straightforward. Listed below are the materials I used. I pray that this will help us parents encourage emotional regulation and resilience in our children (and ourselves!) and create a positive learning environment at home. 🙂
- Sturdy box – e.g. shoe box, filing box, plastic box
- Timer – digital might work, but I used a sandtimer because it won’t set of an alarm which for me can be annoying when I am trying to calm down
- Breathing tool – what we have is a pinwheel, but bubbles might work too
- Print-outs for label, instructions, feelings thermometer, emotions flashcards – I got these from Twinkl.com, they have a lot a lot of great ready-to-print materials
- “Love letters from Jesus” – I love these images from The Letterer so I printed them and placed them inside small envelops; it’s going to be a bit more exciting for my girls to open the envelops and find these beautiful drawings inside
- Bible verses – Jerome laminated these and bound them with a ring a couple of years ago for Tala’s memory verses
- Mandalas and coloring pencils – the ones I have are leftover from my kids yoga classes, I’m just glad my children will get to use them now
- Tala’s favorites: Toto the rabbit, number sliding puzzle, the funny donkey
- Other items to be rotated : fidget toys, jackstones, kaleidoscope – it’s best to have a few items inside the box at a time so it will not be too overwhelming; rotating some items inside will also keep it predictable enough for comfort yet interesting
- Calm down bottle – this is DIY and how I made it deserves another post, but Tala really likes this and she said she wants to make her own, and we will!
I introduced our calm down box to Tala in our first week of school at a time when she was cheerful and happy. The first few minutes went by smoothly until she got preoccupied with one of the items inside and stopped listening to what I was saying. That frustrated me and so I used my stern and loud voice which made her upset. Cut the long story short, we had to use the calm down box right there and then! Guess who used the pinwheel first??? Me! Haha. But it worked for both of us, thank God! 🙂
Mental note for the future: make an outdoor version that is weather-proof, or maybe make a mom-version (what would you put inside yours, fellow moms? 😉)
It might be good idea to use the calm down box myself because for certain, moms have big feelings too! And whether I like it or not, my emotions somehow sets the mood of our home. Please pray with me and for me that God will give me the grace to be patient and kind every moment so that there will be much joy in our home every day. 🙏🏻