SJSD now has 3 schools with Regulation Rooms to help students cope with stress

Kids who are acting out or over-emotional in the classroom now have a place to go to calm down and learn coping skills on how to deal with their stress.

Posted: Nov 20, 2019 12:35 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) --  It's a 21st century way of dealing with kids who might be acting out in school.

"This is not going to be seen as a place for time out or a place you have to go to," said Leah Richardson, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School in St. Joseph.

Regulation Rooms are separate rooms in grade schools where kids can go to calm down.

"It's going to be a place where (kids) get to go there so that I can learn some strategies so that I can be successful in the classroom." Richardson said.

Child experts say Regulation Rooms are part of the future in managing kids who are under stress.

"It's designed to help kids regulate their emotions.It is designed around the areas of the brain and how the brain regulates," said Jean West a social worker a certified trauma trainer with the St. Joseph School District.

Regulation rooms are broken down into stations, each designed to stimulate a different part of the brain. Some are physical, some are mental, some are more emotional. A student's heart rate is measured when they come into the room and then again when they leave, approximately a half hour later. West says in almost all cases, their heart rates are lower, they're much calmer and ready to go back to the classroom to learn.

West stresses that they don't want to label the types of kids who go to the Regulation Rooms as students who are in trouble and causing problems.

"We don't want to word it that way," she said. "This is a learning opportunity, a fabulous learning opportunity. What we know is that all of us have to get under control of our emotions, even as adults. Kids can learn this at this age."

Funding for the new Regulation Rooms in three elementary schools came from a $42,000 grant from St. Joseph's three Rotary clubs. This week Rotarians are volunteering their time, helping to assemble the rooms in Lindbergh, Hosea and Edison. On Tuesday, students at Hosea held an assembly to thank the Rotarians for the funds and for setting up the rooms.

"It's going to be amazing for our kids to know they've got somewhere to go to," Richardson said.

For those who think this might be coddling students and not disciplining them appropriately when they are acting out in the classroom, educators disagree. Justin McCarthy, principal at Hosea, says that children with new age problems can't be managed with old school methods.

"Kids these days are up against an entire different world than what i grew up in," he said. "It's really hard to look at the way we used to do things and the way we do things now and say one way is right and one way is wrong. I just think the world continues to change and education and the way we support our kids is going to continue to change too."

The Rotary Regulation Rooms are just one component of the grant provided by the Rotary Clubs, that have given the money to the district to address youths and trauma. Funds have also gone toward training and other supplies and tools to address trauma in the schools.

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