Cafeteria: Safe Place
How to Use a Safe Place in the Cafeteria
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 Safe Place Breathing Icons from our Free Resource Toolkit 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.