Zones of Regulation: what have we learned, and what's next?

Our staff were excited to see the results of our Zones of Regulation Parent and Student surveys from early Spring 2023 to see if we could identify success; was what we were doing actually working for our students and supporting them in their learning?

From our student survey:

  • 98% knew about the Zones of Regulation program a lot or a little, and 96% knew the strategies a lot or a little
  • 90% of our students are able use the strategies independently (always or sometimes); where as 42% enjoy a lot or a little help accessing the strategies from an adult
  • 80% of our students report that they use the Zones strategies while at home (a lot or a little)
  • the most commonly used strategies by our students are: breathing strategies, drawing, listening to music, having a drink or water, or taking a break

From our parent survey: 

  • 92% knew about the Zones of Regulation program a lot or a little, and 92% knew about the strategies a lot or a little
  • 85% talked about the Zones of Regulation program at home with their child a lot or a little, and 93% believe that the Zones program has been helpful for their child!
  • 85% had the Zones of Regulation magnet posted on their fridge at home!


In Term 3 we wanted to do a bit of a deeper dive into how our students felt about how the Zones of Regulation was supporting their learning.  And so, we conducted personal interviews with several students from every class in the school to ask them! 

Our students are very insightful and they were happy to share their stories!


We asked our students to talk to us about their learning and how they use the Zones strategies:


How have you used the Zones Strategies to help you at school/to be in the green Zone? How do get yourself calm, alert, and ready for learning?  Here are some of their responses:

  • Sometimes when I feel like I’m in the blue zone or not ready to do my work I take deep breaths and remind myself I can do this
  • Sometimes if I’m angry or frustrated I would talk to my friends or try to take deep breaths and drink water or maybe read a book. It helps me get ready to learn. I feel happy after I use my strategies.
  • I’ll just drink some water, read a book, deep breathing and if it’s really bad I’ll go to the bathroom for time and space.
  • When I’m mad, I take a deep breath and I usually walk away. I walk away and count 5 seconds. If that doesn’t work I usually drink some water and then wait until I calm down. I’ll take a walk to help stay focused and calm, then return to the classroom when I’m ready.
  • I use Finger breathing
  • Sometimes when I’m feeling I go on my iPad and play game and play music, I start playing the zone when I’m in yellow zone and when I’m in the green zone I’m ready for something else
  • If I’m stressed when I struggle with my homework, I listen to music or go out for a walk.
  • I use the strategies to focus. I use a little ring that my teacher gave to us and I use it during math and stuff or during a time I need help focusing (math, novel study, socials, and writing) because my finger picks around a lot. It likes to go through my desk. It distracts both fingers. I drink water. If I’m at home or not busy then I’ll go for a walk. I go to the bathroom for a short little walk and wash my hands because that also helps.
  • Recess and lunch, when I get in a fight with friend I can walk a way and take deep breaths, and when I calm down I can tell a teacher
  • When I am mad I usually write stories to help me feel better. When I am in the blue zone I normally drink some water and take deep breaths. Before a lesson, I make sure that nobody distracts me and nobody talks to me.


When do you need/choose to use the strategies?  Recess and lunch?  When you are by yourself or during a lesson?  Here are some of their responses:

  • Sometimes I’m a little bit in the yellow zone after lunch but then after I use my strategies to calm down I can be ready for the lesson.
  • Usually when I get frustrated when I don’t know how to write something down but I remind myself that not everybody can do it on the first try so I just use my strategies to calm down.
  • I use the fidgets at the carpet, or if someone has been unkind to me and I’m upset, after I tell the teacher I use the fidget to help me calm.
  • When I feel alone, I like to write to make me happy. I use my strategies at recess and lunch when someone doesn’t want to play with me so I write about my day in my journal.
  • When I’m in the yellow zone, I feel frustrated, at school when Math hard, I will take water breaks
  • Lunch time is really long so I usually need to use the strategies more. I want to play with my best friend but sometimes they don’t listen to me. Then I go for a walk.


Does using the Zones strategies (to be regulated/calm/alert…) help you to feel more connected to your classroom community/classmates? Here are some of their responses:

  • Yes! I just like it because I feel we learned it at school it helps more at school because everyone else is doing it so I don’t feel like the only one.
  • I like how the whole school is learning to be calm. I see the change in the school and my class. When I need a break my classmates understand and are respectful why I need to do this.
  • It makes us feel we can all help each other
  • It makes our community better so we can talk to each other.
  • It helps me feel connected to my friends because when I am calm, I can be a better friend.
  • When I am in the green zone , green means good and happy and calm then I can listen to my friends.


Do you use the Zones strategies independently? Are there times when you need adult support in using Zones? Here are some of their responses:

  • I usually use them independently. When I’m in the DARK red zone, I need adult support. That’s at home. Mom and Dad usually just talk to me or give me a snack.
  • If it’s immediate, sometimes I work it out on my own, sometimes we do breathing with our teachers like in gym
  • Sometimes I do it by myself and sometimes I need an adult. Usually at home I need adult help like my dad and usually my mom helps me. THey help me find strategies to help me calm down. They usually tell me to do deep breaths.
  • Both. I can use my strategies by myself or ask an adult to help me. I ask an adult to calm me down by letting me have some time to calm down.


Is there anything else that you want to tell us about using the Zones/your learning? Is there anything that we can be doing differently to help students learn at Tomsett? Here are some of their responses:

  • To the other students if you’re younger: don’t feel scared to ask staff (for support with the Zones of Regulation strategies) because you may be embarrassed by kids in your class… just do it because it’s the right thing and no one’s going to complain!


Through our analysis, we felt that students have become very skillful at recognizing what they need, and when they need it, as learners.  Tomsett’s motto is “Learning to be me”, and our students are getting to know themselves as learners and what they need to be successful.  Students have been taught, and have personally developed, many strategies that they choose from on a daily basis; they select the right strategy for that specific situation, and it is helping them as learners.


What is next for our learners? 


While they have demonstrated competence with identifying emotions and selecting strategies for regulating behaviour, they still need support to persevere through challenging tasks, and develop more effective strategies for problem solving.


We also want to progress from understanding themselves as learners, to developing empathy, acceptance, and understanding for each other as learners.  We want to truly embrace Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Tomsett, and to recognize and celebrate that every learner is different; everyone has different triggers and different needs, and that if we support each other more that we will achieve greater collective success as a community of learners.  We are excited to embark on a journey to support all members of our community through anti-racism work, and equity work, where we grow as a community to achieve greater things together.





Updated: Wednesday, August 30, 2023