Downtime goes by many different names, all with slight variations on each other. There is ‘time-out’ for those who are a little off-task or repeat undesirable behaviours after warnings and reprimands. Similarly, there is ‘self-calming’ for those who need a break from the excitement of class. Some schools have a padded ‘safety room’ so students can calm down without hurting themselves or anyone else. Downtime is similar except for the fact that it isn’t a consequence or punishment, nor is it used specifically for meltdowns. In its simplest form, downtime is an activity that provides students with a break from the hectic pace of the class and the curriculum. It is often used as a preventative measure because regular and short downtime activities helps to keep stress levels low thus preventing outbursts. Downtime can also be used as a reward for good behaviour, the achievement of a goal or for the completion of an activity.
Teachers use downtime as a self-calming tool for when students are becoming agitated or when they see the tell-tale signs of a meltdown. Downtime can be as simple as taking a message to another room, sitting outside to read a favourite book, playing a video game, cleaning and organising a store area, a walk with a friend, going to the library to choose a book, or any other number of distractions designed to reduce anxiety and stress. Teachers often set up a specific downtime area. It will often include a video game console, board games and interesting books (children love the Guinness Book of Records). Providing downtime is a proactive way of preventing looming behavioural issues and is particularly useful when working with students with autism and other neurological, social or learning disorders.
Teachers use downtime as a self-calming tool for when students are becoming agitated or when they see the tell-tale signs of a meltdown.
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.
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