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Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a curriculum geared toward helping students gain skills in consciously regulating their actions, which in turn leads to increased control and problem solving abilities. Using a cognitive behaviour approach, the curriculum’s learning activities are designed to help students recognise when they are in different states called “zones,” with each of four zones represented by a different colour. In the activities, students also learn how to use strategies or tools to stay in a zone or move from one to another. Students explore calming techniques, cognitive strategies, and sensory supports so they will have a toolbox of methods to use to move between zones. To deepen students’ understanding of how to self-regulate, the lessons set out to teach students these skills: how to read others’ facial expressions and recognise a broader range of emotions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, insight into events that trigger their less regulated states, and when and how to use tools and problem solving skills.

The curriculum’s learning activities are presented in 18 lessons. To reinforce the concepts being taught, each lesson includes probing questions to discuss and instructions for one or more learning activities. Many lessons offer extension activities and ways to adapt the activity for individual student needs. The curriculum also includes worksheets, other handouts, and visuals to display and share. These can be photocopied from this book or printed from the accompanying CD or USB drive. In addition, the Zones of Regulation poster can be purchased here to support these concepts in the classroom.


Who can teach The Zones of Regulation?

The curriculum is designed to be taught by anyone who works with students who struggle with self-regulation. This can include, but is not limited to, special education and regular education teachers, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, psychologists, counsellors, behaviourists, social workers, and parents. Throughout the text, the user is referred to as “teacher”; however, this does not mean you need to be a classroom teacher to teach the lessons.


Who can benefit from The Zones?

The Zones curriculum is designed for students who struggle with self-regulation, as described more fully in the next section. Sometimes deficits in regulation could be a manifestation of a neurobiological disorder and/or a social-learning challenge, but not everyone who has difficulty regulating has a diagnosis. Initially the curriculum was developed for students with neurobiological and mental health disorders, such as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder, selective mutism, and anxiety disorders. However, it became apparent that the curriculum can reach a much broader population. All people in general can benefit from The Zones of Regulation, not just the students. When one student starts using The Zones, often parents and teachers find it helps the other children and even themselves. Adults who teach The Zones report better insight into their own states and become more aware of the tools they can use to regulate. Everyone experiences difficulties in regulation from time to time, prompting many regular education teachers to adopt it for use with their whole class.

The Zones lessons are designed to be used with students as young as preschool age (around four years old) if cognitively they are at or above average intellect, primary students, secondary students, and adults. Where relevant, the lessons suggest ways to do the activities with younger students (preschool to early primary years) and older students (upper primary or middle school through secondary school or adulthood). More mature secondary age students and adults may feel that some of the activities are too “childish” for them but can still benefit from the discussions laid out in the lessons. The depth of understanding will vary depending on the students’ age and grade level, cognition, and maturity, and teaching expectations need to be tailored for specific students and groups. For example, you would rarely set a goal for a preschool student to independently regulate by using a tool when facing a stressful situation. You will want to customize how concepts are presented depending on the age and grade level of the students; with younger students, you’ll need to simplify some of the discussions.

Although the majority of the lessons are targeted toward students with average to above-average intelligence, some accommodations are provided to allow you to adapt activities for more cognitively involved students or those with less language. Students with lower cognition may not develop as deep an understanding of The Zones, but with consistent exposure, many are able to gain awareness of their zones and follow visual supports to guide them to activities that aid in self-regulation. You may need to further adapt the concepts presented when you teach students with cognitive impairments.

The rest of this chapter explores the components of self-regulation, explains how the curriculum developed, and describes The Zones themselves and related vocabulary. In Chapter 2, you’ll learn what you need to do to begin using the lessons with your students. The curriculum’s lessons are presented in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. Chapter 6 includes additional background information about the conceptual basis for The Zones. The Appendix includes frequently asked questions, a set of goals that can be used for IEP documents, recommended resources, footnotes, and the bibliography.


About the Author

Leah Kuypers earned a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Graduate Certificate in Autism and a MA in Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. She has practiced as an OT/autism specialist in school and clinical settings, specialising in self-regulation and social learning, and has worked with students of all ages and challenges, including anxiety, ADHD, and ASD.

Leah created The Zones of Regulation® (www.zonesofregulation.com), a framework designed to teach self-regulation, and is author of the book by same name (2011, Social Thinking Publishing). In addition to working with students, she provides trainings and consultation to parents and professionals on self-regulation and challenging behaviour, as well as offers workshops on the Zones to groups across North America. She currently resides in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son, daughter and dog.


About the Zones of Regulation App

New update released August 2013 with lots of good stuff! Extend learning with the Zones of Regulation app! Developed by author Leah Kuypers and software company Selosoft, it supplements the lessons in the book with interactive games filled with adventure and rewards. Students build their own toolbox to identify triggers that impact how students are feeling and help with emotional regulation. You can purchase the app at the Google Play, Amazon, or Apple App Store.

The Zones of Regulation
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By Leah Kuypers, MA, OT, Autism SpecialistThe Zones of Regulation is a curriculum geared toward helping students gain skills in consciously regulating their actions, which in turn leads to increased control and problem solving abilities. Using a cognitive behaviour approach, the curriculum’s learning activities are designed to help students recognise when they are in different states called “zones,” with each of four zones represented by a different colour. In the activities, students also learn...

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The Zones of Regulation Book and Game Bundle
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The Zones of Regulation is a popular framework taking the world by storm—and now you can get The Zones curriculum, the game Navigating The Zones (for ages 8+), and its Advanced Extension Pack (for ages 10+) all in one bundle! Help kids, teens, and young adults build emotional awareness, self-regulation, problem solving, and more with these interactive teaching materials. Plus—save over £10 when you purchase the bundle over buying the products separately.1. The Zones of Regulation, Ages 4+The...

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The Zones of Regulation Poster
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By Leah Kuypers This poster reinforces the teachings of The Zones of Regulation book/curriculum. Using a cognitive behaviour approach, the curriculum’s learning activities are designed to help students recognise when they are in different states called “zones,” with each of the four colour-coded and "road sign" oriented for clear recognition and reinforcement. Along the way, students learn how to use strategies or tools to stay in a zone or move from one to another. Students explore...

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Navigating The Zones - A Pathway to Self-Regulation
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Based on The Zones of Regulation by Leah Kuypers. Intended to be used by and with individuals who are already familiar with Zones concepts, vocabulary, and curriculum. Navigating The Zones is NOT intended to be a stand-alone tool to teach The Zones of Regulation frameworkNavigating The Zones is an interactive teaching tool designed to help individuals learn about the problem solving process inherent in self-regulation and gain knowledge about self-regulation skills and strategies taught within...

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Advanced Extension Pack and Game Cards for Navigating The Zones
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IMPORTANT – Please Note!This product requires the use of Navigating The Zones, sold separately.About the Advanced Extension PackIf you’ve been using the game Navigating The Zones, integrate the Advanced Extension Pack and Game Cards to help more sophisticated thinkers (age 10+) further develop their problem solving and self-regulation skills. Add these advanced cards to the Navigating The Zones cooperative game to introduce three additional levels of play—including competitive game play! The...

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Zones of Regulation 3-Poster Set
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Author: Leah Kuypers Love The Zones of Regulation® self-regulation curriculum? Or maybe you're just getting started using Zones? Either way you'll love having all three of the Zones posters for your classroom, clinic, or home/homeschool. Each is a visual teaching tool in and of itself and gives you the opportunity to take advantage of all those in-the-moment teaching situations that are part of everyday life. And, all three posters are dry erase, which means you can use them again and again!...

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Zones STOP, OPT and GO (dry-erase poster) 24" x 18"
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By Leah Kuypers The Zones STOP, OPT and GO poster is a companion product to the self-regulation curriculum The Zones of Regulation®, by Leah Kuypers, and aligns with Lesson 17 in the book. Many students who struggle with self-regulation have difficulty with impulse control and figuring out alternative solutions to conflicts. These students can get stuck on one way to do something and have difficulty trying other people's ideas or alternatives. STOP, OPT and GO gives students an easy-to-remember...

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Zones Triggers (dry-erase poster) 24" x 18"
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By Leah Kuypers The Zones Triggers poster is a companion product to the self-regulation curriculum The Zones of Regulation®, by Leah Kuypers, and coordinates with Lesson 9 "Caution! Triggers Ahead" in the book. The poster is designed as a tool adults can use to help students gain awareness of their personal triggers that lead them to the Yellow or Red Zone.A student's ability to self-regulate fluctuates throughout the day. Students may find themselves in any one or more of the four...

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