Calm Moments Cards
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Calm Moments Cards (Downloadable Materials)
Calm Moments Cards booklet (includes information about the program and all of the 17 cards and Appendices) Click image below.
17 Calm Moments Cards (individual)
Download the individual Calm Moments Cards (click on the links below). Print each 2-page card on 8.5 X 11" paper (double-sided).
Appendices: Supporting materials for the Calm Moments Cards
Nurture Yourself for Teachers (handout)
Marketing Flyer for the Calm Moments Cards Program
Power Point (PPT) Orientation to the Calm Moments Cards (click on image below)
The Calm Moments Cards provide user-friendly information on how to recognize stress reactions in children and youth and embed simple evidence-based strategies to promote emotional well-being throughout the school day. The program is free and downloadable.
Who can use these? Any school personnel including teachers, para-educators, therapists, counselors, etc. The goal is to help all adults become mental health promoters.
Why are they Needed? Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent diagnosable mental health disorder among children in the United States with 50% experiencing onset by age six.1 Feeling anxious during the school day can lead to restlessness, difficulty concentrating and irritability, leading to challenges in academic and social performance.2
How to use the Calm Moments Cards? This is a flexible program that can be used in a number of ways. For example, the strategies can be implemented with a whole class, small group, or individually with a student.
Individual use. Any school personnel can read and apply the strategies and activities on their own. A good starting point is to start with one of the cards. Identify one of the 17 situational stressors that seems most prevalent (e.g. Test Taking), read the card, and apply some of the strategies. (Each card can be printed on 8.5 X 11 paper.)
Whole school use. The program can also be used at a whole-school level by a committed group of school providers. Refer to Orienting School Personnel.
Developed by: Sarah Kolic, OTR/L, Alisa Deininger, OTR/L, Denise Young, COTA/L, and Susan Bazyk, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA (2016)
1Merikangas K. R., He, J. P., Brody, D., Fisher, P. W., Bourdon, K., & Koretz, D. S. (2010). Prevalence and treatment of mental disorders among US children in the 2001–2004 NHANES. Pediatrics, 125, 75–81. http://doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2598 2Weaver, L. L., & Darragh, A. R. (2015). Systematic review of yoga interventions for anxiety reduction among Children and Adolescents. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6). http://doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.020115
Orienting School Personnel
Whole School Implementation
Who should lead whole school implementation of the program?
Ideally, occupational therapy (OT) practitioners can take the lead in implementing the Calm Moments Cards (CMC) program because of expertise in activity-based services, mental health, sensory processing and activity analysis. However, if an occupational therapy practitioner (OT or OTA) is not available, other skilled school personnel (e.g. school psychologist, nurse, counselor) may take the lead in implementing this program in their school. Refer to this Power Point Orientation.
Major steps for how to implement this program at the Universal level (whole school)
Prior to beginning the program, it is essential to obtain the principal's permission and support. Schedule a meeting with the principal to review the Calm Moments Cards program and share your plan of action for implementing the program (how you'll invite school personnel, approximate start date, etc.). Discuss how implementing this program fits into your workload. Example: “This is a school-wide initiative that may benefit students with and without disabilities and/or mental health challenges. The goal is to empower school personnel in recognizing signs of stress and anxiety (not diagnosing anxiety) and embedding simple strategies to reduce stress and enhance feelings of mental well-being so students can participate fully in the school day.”
After obtaining the principal's approval, begin letting school personnel (all teachers, paraprofessionals, related services, counselors, coaches, guidance counselors, cafeteria/ lunch supervisors, librarians, etc.) that you'll be kicking off the program. Encourage them to invite colleagues who might be interested. Click this link to download a marketing flyer — Calm Moments Cards Marketing Flyer. Share this flyer with school personnel to invite them to the orientation session.
The lead OT (or other relevant school personnel) will provide a 1 to 1.5 hour orientation of the program using a power point presentation to educate school personnel about the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, the common school situational stressors that may evoke a stress response, and how to use the 17 Calm Moments Cards. With the principal's assistance, the orientation session should be scheduled in a room that allows for computer access for the participants (e.g. computer lab). If this is not available, participants should be encouraged to bring their own laptops. Another option is to send the Every Moment Counts website link for the cards prior to the session so that participants can download the cards beforehand. During the orientation, the following is provided:
- CMC Orientation PPT presentation which provides an overview of the program. Click this link to download the PPT — Orientation PPT Calm Moments Cards
- Hard copy samples of some of the CMC materials. Have a set of laminated CMC cards to display as well as the Appendices.
- Prepare samples of some of the activities to share with participants.
- Demonstration of how to access the 17 Cards and Appendices A through E.
- Give examples of how to use the Cards and Appendices (e.g. Activity Templates, Movement Poses & Breathing Instructions, Teaching Moments, etc.).
Provide ongoing, informal coaching to support school personnel in proactively embedding the thinking, calming & focusing, and sensory-based activities throughout the day during or before situational stressors. When? Embed this coaching during times when you typically collaborate with school personnel – in the classroom, cafeteria, or recess. Purpose of follow-up coaching is to encourage use of the Calm Moments Cards and Appendices, problem-solve challenges, and demonstrate activities. An effective coach:
- Develops a positive relationship with the school personnel based on trust
- Promotes two-way sharing of information
- Demonstrates positive unconditional regard for the school personnel – they are experts about themselves and their experiences
- Facilitates the change process involving problem-solving, exploring options, trying things out, working together and maintaining a positive attitude. You are in this together!
Calm Moments Cards
The following user-friendly information is included on each card:
Situational Stressor: Situations or activities during the day the may cause added stress for some students due to sensory, learning, or emotional challenges
Triggers: Possible causes of stress and anxiety related to the situation (e.g. student has difficulty reading directions on test)
Thinking strategies: Cognitive behavioral strategies (e.g. repeating a positive affirmation) to change thinking and feelings
Focusing & Calming Strategies: Movement poses, stretching & breathing activities
Sensory Strategies: The strategic use of touch, taste, movement, visual input, and smells to foster emotional regulation
Teaching Moment: Simple evidence-based explanations explaining how the supporting the activities and strategies impact functioning
Download the Calm Moments Cards (links on left sidebar)
All of the Calm Moments Cards and Appendices are free and downloadable. You can download the whole booklet (which includes information about the program, all of the cards, and appendices), or, download separate cards to use.
Not sure where to start? Then, start with one! Look over the 17 situational stressors and identify one that you have observed in one or more students. Read through the thinking, calming & focusing, and sensory strategies and embed some of them. Doing the activities will help adults as well as students reduce stress and enhance emotional well-being.
During the 2015-16 school year, the Calm Moments Cards program was implemented in two school districts in northern Ohio. OT practitioners oriented school personnel about the program and how to implement the strategies. Informal coaching was used over 4 months to help the participants use the cards during situational stressors. The findings of this mixed methods research study are described below.
Researchers: Sarah Kolic, OTR/L, Denise Young, COTA/L, Alisa Deininger, OTR/L, & Susan Bazyk, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Type of study: A mixed methods design involving quantitative and qualitative data was completed. Data included pre- and post-surveys measuring changes in knowledge, beliefs and actions related to minimizing stress and anxiety and promoting positive mental health in students. Qualitative data included final written reflections regarding the meaning and benefits of the program.
Participants: A total of 93 school personnel implemented the Calm Moments Cards program and took part in this study during the 2015-16 school year. School personnel from 2 school districts 1 included general education teachers, special education teachers, para-educators, administrators and related service providers). Participants received and orientation to the program with follow-up coaching by the occupational therapists over 4 months.
Results: Statistically significant improvements (p < .00-.03) in pretest–posttest scores of knowledge, beliefs, and actions related to minimizing stress and anxiety and promoting positive mental health in students were found. Qualitative findings suggest that participation in the program was both meaningful and enjoyable resulting in enhanced awareness of signs of stress and anxiety, the situational stressors that evoke a stress reaction, and the implementation of embedded strategies for reducing stress and anxiety.
Conclusion: The Calm Moments Cards program expanded school personnel knowledge, promoted confidence, and resulted in enhanced awareness of signs of stress and anxiety and application of embedded strategies for reducing stress and anxiety and enhancing emotional well-being in all students.
1 School Districts: Lake Local Schools and Aurora City School District
Kolic, S., Deininger, A., Young, D., & Bazyk, S. (pending publication). The Calm Moments Cards program for reducing stress and enhancing emotional well-being: An outcome study.