Tips & Tricks for SEL at Your School!

Implementing Zones of Regulation Instruction School-Wide

Working with students with high behavioral support needs, we routinely find ourselves discussing adaptive and maladaptive behaviors, and the importance of skill acquisition. But, when we step back and look at our student’s holistically, how often do we forget to incorporate their emotions? Can we continue to focus solely on behavioral interventions, without addressing students’ emotional self-awareness and metacognitive skills?

Zones of Regulation

This year, our program started implementing Zones of Regulation instruction school wide.  After attending extensive training and study of the program, our related services department began implementing Zones instruction across all classrooms. As our first official SEL curriculum, Zones has helped our programming become multidimensional – focusing on social cognition, executive functioning, emotional functioning, and sensory functioning. The Zones of Regulation program uses four colors to help students identify their feelings and tools to support self-regulation. Designed by OT, Leah Kuypers the program can be used with children and adults, and is a cognitive-behavioral approach to teaching social emotional skills to new learners.

Tips for Implementation:

  1. Buy the Zones of Regulation book

  2. Attend a training

  3. Make a plan


Pictured Above: Zones of Regulation poster in each classroom – Made by our Zones of Regulation team using resources directly from Zones of Regulation website!

Pictured Above: Zones of Regulation binder  – Materials directly from Zones of Regulation website!

Benefits of Using Zones of Regulation


One of the first benefits our staff noticed is that the program provides a “language [that all staff can use]… it is a relief to staff because it is the opposite of things being so individualized – it is an inclusive, all-encompassing script that can be used with every type of learner,” noted our lead counselor. We have observed not only students, but staff using the language in our classrooms. For example, you may hear a staff say, “I’m feeling in the green zone today – it’s Friday!” You may also hear prompts such as, “Jacob, what zone are you in? How can we get back to the green zone?” This program has provided opportunities for our students to advocate their own emotions, and identify strategies that enable them to get back to the green zone and on track with the rest of their day.



I am sure some of our readers are already using the Zones of Regulation program at their school, but if not, I encourage you all to find ways to incorporate time for social-emotional growth and development with your students and staff – regardless of what program or materials you choose! Thanks for reading – hope you are having a green zone kind of day!

What if Your School Does Not Want To Use Zones of Regulation?


There are still many ways to implement social emotional learning and development with your learners! While chatting with our related services team, here are some ideas they gathered and shared:

  • Figure out what helps your students self-regulate (get to the green zone!) and implement those activities as proactive strategies in your classroom.

  • Help students notice how their body is feeling physically in reaction to their current emotions, prompt breathing exercises, and model using these strategies in your classroom.

  • Cultivate integrative classroom rituals – a morning check-in routine, a quiet moment with belly breathing, etc.

  • Continue to include activities that focus on the five competencies of SEL: self-awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making.

  • Find resources that you can use in your classroom to support SEL and self-regulation skills – click here for multiple resources from The Autism Helper!

Stephanie Kennedy, M.Ed
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