Introduction: Calm Moment Cards for More Mindfulness in the Classroom and Beyond

teach mindfulness in the classroom and beyond with Calm Moment CardsThe 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 (e.g. mindfulness in the classroom, thinking strategies, sensory supports). 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, mindfulness in the classroom, thinking (cognitive behavioral), and sensory 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)

Every Moment Counts occupational therapy in school mental health prevention

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)

Calm Moments Cards for Mindfulness in the Classroom and Beyond

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, mindfulness & 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, maximize mindfulness in the classroom, and enhance overall emotional well-being throughout the school day.

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Research Outcomes

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