Helping Students to be ‘Just Right’ in the Classroom
Implementing ‘The Alert Program’ in the Classroom
Has your child been talking about feeling just right? If they haven’t yet they might be soon! ‘The Alert Program’ is an exciting Occupational Therapy program being implemented across all year levels at The Glenleighden School. In the classroom students often find it difficult to maintain the level of alertness required to listen and concentrate on the required task. Some students in a low state of alertness appear tired, lethargic or disinterested. Others in a high state of alertness may appear overexcited, stressed or angry. The aim of ‘The Alert Program’ is to teach students how to maintain a just right state for optimal learning.
‘The Alert Program’ is implemented using the analogy of a car engine in three stages: identifying engine speeds, experimenting with methods to change engine speeds and regulating engine speeds. The program is adapted to suit student age and ability. In Early Childhood students are talking about feeling ‘too fast’, ‘just right’ and ‘too slow’. In Middle School students are talking about feeling ‘high’, ‘just right’ and ‘low’. The older students in Middle School and Senior School are also encouraged to use words that are meaningful to them, for example angry, frustrated, happy, good, tired and sad.
In the classroom staff are beginning to model the language and are guiding students to choose appropriate strategies to help them stay in a just right state for learning. If students are feeling ‘high’ they are encouraged to do deep breathing, have a break in the cool room or listen to some calming music. When students are feeling ‘low’ they are encouraged to have a movement break, a drink of water or to sit on a therapy ball or move ‘n’ sit cushion.
At home start using the same language, such as “I feel really tired, I am going to do some exercise to wake up”. If everyone uses the same language the students will develop a greater understanding of how to self-regulate their alertness.
Tanya Currie – Occupational Therapist – LET’S TALK Developmental Hub – Outreach Team
– ‘How Does Your Engine Run- A Leader’s Guide to The Alert Program for Self- Regulation’
Williams & Shellenberger 2010