Special rooms help students calm down, refocus before acting out

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Instead of sending students to the principal’s office when they act out, Washington Township Schools have a different idea.

Deanna Nibarger, social and emotional behavior coach for the district, created “Amygdala Reset Rooms” where students can calm down and refocus.

“The amygdala is the alarm center for the brain. So when students are dysregulated, we’ve gone into our amygdala,” Nibarger said.

“In order to regulate, we need to move, we need to breathe. So this is a space where you can go with an adult and then reflect,” she said.

FOX59 went inside the reset room at Crooked Creek Elementary, where you’ll find exercise machines, lavender-scented Play-Doh and yoga mats.

“Most kids that get mad have a tendency to lash out on their other classmates. So that’s a good place for breathing and movement to get all the anger out,” Nibarger said.

Nibarger said she’s working with 40 different school districts around the state and country.

“Kids are spending more time in their classrooms, less time in the office,” she said. “More time engaged with their peers and projects. And really the reason they come to school.”

Noblesville Schools will spend more time this year educating staff and students about their current amygdala spaces. The district is launching a similar program this year—just on a smaller scale.

“We are piloting the use of a similar ‘calming corner’ idea in some classrooms this year. Same idea but the break to calm is even shorter (90 seconds) and the space is already in the classroom,” Noblesville spokeswoman Marnie Cooke said in a statement.

The Noblesville program was already in the works before May’s school shooting. The district plans to focus more on mental health initiatives in the wake of the incident.

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