Calm, there’s an app for that!

3x3 blog pic calm

We had our Best Practices GOSSLP conference for school based SLPs in Georgia last week. It is a conference I look forward to for many reasons, including meeting new friends like the great OTs who created Lucy the Lap Dog , catching up with old speechie friends that I don’t get to see very often and the great speakers the conference brings.   I went to hear Terri Rossman speak on Zones of Regulation, Sarah Ward talk about executive function skills and Julie Weatherly discuss special education law (that will keep you up late at night!!). These courses offered great table discussions during lunch among my fellow SLPs!

One of my takeaways was the seemingly increasing need of our students, particularly the students that I see with social language impairments, for self-regulation and calming strategies.  One of my colleagues in our county is establishing mindfulness classes for both the students and the staff at her middle school!  She has done a lot of training on her own and like me, sees an increase in the stress and anxiety levels in our students and our peers. I think it’s the teach to the mandated test culture, social media pressure and the message to “do more/be more” that we are inundated with in our world today. I feel it as an adult, do you?

So with this in mind, I stumbled across an app called Calm (it’s available on iPhone and Android).  While the app is free, there are paid options within the app that you can choose as well.  Some of the free features include a visual breathing circle, seven days of calm meditation program, soothing visuals and sounds of nature,  and sleep stories for bedtime (for adults and children) that are read in a calm voice.  The app is easy to navigate and has good explanations of each feature. It is packed full of great options that are useful in a variety of settings, to help provide an external cue for self calming.

I had the opportunity to try the app with one of my little after-school friends. He was in the “yellow zone” during our session and was a giggly, wiggly mess last week!  We have been working on whole body listening but those cues and visuals were not enough. So, I popped up the app on my phone, showed him the breathing circle and we did this together for a few minutes.  He did calm down enough to attend to our activities and regulate back to the green zone for a little while before we needed to get up and MOVE to get the wiggles out. There isn’t a one size fits all therapy tool that works all the time with all of my kids, but this app is a nice addition to my skill set.  I may just use it myself the next time I am stuck in two hours of Atlanta gridlock!

What other apps do you use to target calming, reducing anxiety or self-regulation skills? Share here!

4 thoughts on “Calm, there’s an app for that!

    • I think more and more of us are coming to see the value of teaching mindfulness strategies to our students!! I am definitely going to check out your links, as I always love to find more tools for my toolbox. Thanks!

  1. Anita says:

    Great post Heidi! I am so thankful to you and OMazing Kids for promoting mindfulness with our speech/language students and for providing such great resources. I am using a curriculum from Mindful Schools with my middle schoolers. Teachers love it too! I have to share my second mindful connection of the day, in addition to this blog. This afternoon, by odd circumstance, I met a gentleman named Hill Schroder, who just so happened to recently author a book on mindfulness. Blue, A Mindful Tale is about a baby bird’s journey through a tough time using mindfulness. I bought it on the spot because I want to support this kind of work and it seemed like a great way to introduce mindfulness to children in narrative form while being able to address comprehension, story elements, feelings, phonemic awareness/rhyme, and so much more. You can see a few of the cute illustrations here http://blueamindfulnesstale.com/ (Kickstarter campaign complete). The book is recommended for ages 8-108 but seems especially suited for elementary ages. I’ll try it out with some of my younger students and report back.

    Here is a video I have used to introduce some of the benefits of mindfulness. I love how the children in this video describe how anger feels and how those feelings can take over and how breathing can help calm and regulate those intense emotions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

    Here is one from the same filmmakers about the stresses of middle school aged students.

    A few more
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awo8jUxIm0c from some cute Brits.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzKryaN44ss&t=74s folk tales/figurative language

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yJPcdiLEkI explanation of benefits for older kids

    Let’s keep in touch!

    Anita

    • Thanks for all the great resources Anita!! You are doing amazing work with your students and I am so happy you are leading the way! I think you need to write a blog on mindfulness!!

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