|Principal & Clinic|
Picture Rule Cards
School Family Assemblies
Ways to be Helpful
The Safe Place is a center where children can go to change their inner state from upset to composed in order to optimize learning. It is the centerpiece of your self-regulation program. A modified Safe Place is helpful for cafeteria use.
It’s vital for children to have a place to handle tough emotions in a cafeteria setting that is often louder, busier and less rigidly structured than a classroom; however, your cafeteria Safe Place will look a bit different your classroom one. Set up a small table in an area that is inside the cafeteria, but slightly away from all the hustle and bustle. This table, with the addition of breathing tools, will serve as a cafeteria Safe Place where children can go to calm themselves while still eating their meals.
It is helpful for the cafeteria Safe Place to face a wall (at least partially) to help block out the stimulation of such a busy setting. Post printed breathing icons from our Resources webpage on the wall and consider purchasing the Safe Place Poster Set to provide additional calming strategies. The I Can Calm book and Stress S.T.A.R. both have easy to wipe clean surfaces that make them suitable for cafeteria use. Noise-canceling headphones may also prove helpful.
As with any Safe place, remember to model the active calming techniques you wish children to use. The Safe Place is discussed in detail, including activities and images, in Chapter 9 of Creating the School Family.
The brain functions optimally when a person feels safe, therefore the basic job description for adults in a Conscious Discipline school is "My job is to keep you safe." The children's job is "To help keep it safe." This commitment holds true for the cafeteria staff and students as well. The Safekeeper Ritual establishes this commitment.
Safekeeper Rituals look different in different School Families and in different locations within each School Family. One of the most common Safekeeper rituals involves each child possessing an item like a popsicle stick that represents him or herself. During each lunch, a staff member states the Safekeeper job description and asks the children to commit to keeping it safe by putting their item in a decorated Safekeeper box. Some schools will also play a Safekeeper song such as “Safe Keeper” on Kindness Counts or “Safe and Calm” on Brain Boogie Boosters. This helps children remember their commitment to safety while in the busy, social cafeteria setting.
Complete instructions for the Safekeeper Ritual can be found in the School Family book.
The brain is a pattern-seeking device. The more consistent and clearly represented your daily routines are, the more safely, smoothly and cooperatively it will run. Post your cafeteria routines clearly and visually to help children be successful.
Routines are the skeleton that supports a Conscious Discipline School Family. State every routine from the daily schedule, to lining up, to "what to do when you're finished with your lunch" in pictures and words, and post them throughout the room where those routines occur.
The Daily Routine Cards help to organize your daily classroom schedule visually. In the cafeteria, you will likely need to create your own cards for many routines. Break routines down into 3-5 key steps, represent them visually (with photos or illustrations), add simple descriptive phrases, and post them in the appropriate areas. For example, post the lining up routine at the lunch line and post the “when you’re finished” routine near the tables and trash receptacles.
The School Family book devotes an entire chapter to creating routines, posting them visually and supporting them with related activities. Music that supports daily routines includes "Skip Count" and "I Gotta Go" on Brain Boogie Boosters.
The first step in helping children be successful is for adults to focus on the behaviors we want to see, and then convey that information to children clearly (with visual aids whenever possible). The more clearly we state the expectation, the more likely children are to fulfill it! Remind yourself to focus on the behaviors you want to see more of, and help children see exactly how to be successful by creating a Ways To Be Helpful Board. Individual classrooms will each have a Ways To Be Helpful Board and/or Book that develops from a class-wide discussion, however, your Ways To Be Helpful Board in the cafeteria will have predetermined behaviors that are specific to the environment.
Take a moment to focus on how you want the cafeteria to run. Involve cafeteria staff in this discussion. Write out a list of the behaviors necessary to fulfill your mental image of what you want cafeteria behavior to look like. Use clear language, positive terms and specific behaviors. If “throwing your garbage in the trash can,” “making room for friends” and “standing in your own space in line with hands at your sides” are behaviors you want to see more of, then you would include them in your list. Illustrate or take photos of the behaviors and place them on the Ways To Be Helpful Board. Additional information about Ways To Be Helpful can be found in the School Family and Conscious Discipline books.
A School Family Assembly is the Celebration Center for the whole school. The purpose of the School Family Assembly is to convey important information, and to celebrate life events, individual/group achievements and contributions to the School Family. Utilizing a modified Brain Smart Start creates an optimal integrated brain state that is helpful when bringing large numbers of children together.
Faculty members lead School Family Assemblies at the beginning of the year. Later, many assembly responsibilities can be turned over to older students (with ample teaching and modeling).
Use the following format for School Family Assemblies:
Chapter 13 in the School Family book provides further detail and examples for conducting your School Family Assembly.
The right hemisphere of the brain is in charge of self-regulation. Because the right hemisphere processes information in images, it is important to show children visual images of what acceptable behaviors look like. The Picture Rule Cards provide specific images of what children can do to be successful in meeting behavioral expectations.
Each rule in Shubert’s Picture Rule Cards consists of an image of a hurtful behavior and two images of helpful choices. This provides children with a clear "no," plus two choices for positive behaviors that will maintain their commitment to safety. You may utilize the Shubert set or make your own by photographing or illustrating two acceptable choices and one “no” choice for each cafeteria rile. Post your Picture Rule Cards around the cafeteria near the locations where they will be used.
For more information about visual rules, see Chapter 6 of the Creating the School Family book and Chapter 4 of the Conscious Discipline book. Music that supports picture rules includes "I Gotta Go" on Brain Boogie Boosters.