CalmConnect in Schools
In an ideal world, in a perfect classroom, twenty-five healthy children would arrive each morning after leaving their happy home with a good night’s sleep and a balanced breakfast. They would love their teacher and their friends in the classroom. They would be curious and excited to learn.
In the real world, in a real classroom, teachers must do much more than simply teach. We received this email from an early childhood teacher (pre-K) in a large urban area:
“I have lots of different behaviors this year for a variety of reasons. I have students going through meth withdrawal, some are in behavioral therapy, as well as children rescued from living in human trafficking with their mother. Not what I started with in my career, never dreamed I would deal with this on a regular basis.”
In classrooms around the country there are students who are struggling. There are students who are just a step away from becoming dysregulated and those who are dysregulated, those who have very low energy and those of high energy, and students who are anxious, traumatized, or living with a variety of challenges. The inconceivable challenge for today’s teachers is to help all their students regulate their nervous system and brain functions in ways that allow them to focus and engage those cognitive processes needed to learn.
CalmConnect was created to:
- Meet the diverse regulatory needs of all students of all abilities in the classroom without singling out those individual, sensory and behaviorally challenged students in need of occupational or behavioral therapy.
- Require no training by teachers or specialists.
- Eliminate the need for special equipment or reconfiguration of the classroom.
- Feed the universal need of all children through social engagement and the resilience that develops from experiencing positive connections with others.
- Be easily used by parents at home as well as by occupational therapists and pediatricians in clinical and medical settings as a supportive intervention.
- Take no more than a few minutes to complete in consideration of the unbelievable demands on teacher’s time.
- Enhance children’s self-regulation/ behavioral organization, attention, expressive language and learning.
When we designed our program we envisioned a brand-new teacher, overwhelmed in a room bursting at the seams with more than thirty animated second graders, many behaviorally challenged, speaking a variety of languages, needing an intervention that could work immediately and effectively.
Today the program is being used successfully in thousands of schools around the world. Many of them use the program at the beginning of the day, after lunch or recess, or before testing or learning a new or difficult concept. Therapists use it individually and in groups. Parents find it particularly helpful to calm transition times most often before and after school, before homework and bedtime, before stressful appointments, and to avoid meltdowns.
A first-grade teacher in a neurotypical classroom in Maine shared her experience: My class LOVES CalmConnect! They ask for it if I forget. We’ve been using it when they first come in, and as they enter from recess. Instead of running in, they come in quickly and get started on CalmConnect. When it’s done, I keep my tone quiet and ask them to have a seat on the mat so we can start our lesson. Transition time heaven! I’ve had several teachers stop by and even join in (it’s hard not to). Our OT teachers come in and instead of pulling the kids right out, use that time as part of their OT with the children.
Parents find it especially helpful to calm children before transition times, most often before and after school, before doing homework or bedtime, and before stressful appointments. It has also proven immensely effective in preventing meltdowns – in many cases eliminating them entirely.
Wayzata Public Schools, 81% reduction in off-task behavior
Wayzata collected off-task behavior (not following directions, distracting behavior, talking out of turn, leaving seat, and being disengaged) from 25 classrooms (PreK – 4) in 4 different elementary schools. Using a “pre-post” methodology with one school as a control group, “post” data was collected on weeks 1, 3, 5 and 13. CalmConnect provided an 81% reduction in off-task behavior. (Lackner, 2018).
Saint Paul Public Schools, 59% reduction in off-task behavior
Saint Paul Public Schools measured CalmConnect’s efficacy in reducing off-task behavior during Spring 2017. ‘Prevent’ staff, school counselors, and school social workers observed students in 4 classrooms in 2 elementary schools (8 total) over a 5-week period. The classrooms included 3 E1 Montessori classrooms (grades 1-3), 3 first grade, 1 second grade, and 1 fifth grade classroom. (Heinrichs, 2017).
Alton School District, IL 71% reduction in off-task behavior
An Early Childhood Specialist conducted pre/post research with CalmConnect in her mixed pre/K classroom for a graduate study. Using CalmConnect approximately 4 minutes a day reduced off-task behavior by 71% (Radcliff, 2011).
NYC Public Schools, NYC 48 % reduction in off-task behavior
NYC Autism Specialists studied CalmConnect’s impact in the classroom during Summer Session 2017. CalmConnect was used in 4 classrooms in 2 schools. The classrooms included students from grades 4 and 5, and grades 6, 7, and 8. Students had severe autism and significant cognitive and behavioral challenges. After 3 weeks of consistent use CalmConnect was shown to reduce off-task behavior by an average of 48%. (Bruder, 2017).
Teachers and therapists frequently report a variety of immediate as well as long-term benefits. When used twice a day for a total of 15 minutes by adolescents with severe autism, students were observed to be more engaged and calmer in the classroom. Over the course of 6 weeks, there was a clear increase in social interaction as well as a decrease in undesirable behaviors due to an ability to communicate wants and needs more effectively. (Titone, 2010).
A 5-year-old boy with severe autism showed improved mirror neuron functioning as well as an increase in behavioral outcomes: Speech and language, eye contact, and imitative gesture. The young boy and his family engaged in CalmConnect 5 minutes a day/5 days a week for 12 weeks. Along with significant behavioral changes, CalmConnect was a “protocol that is fun and engaging for children and their families to do at home together.” (Leigh, 2010, presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, Philadelphia, 2010.)