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Blog: Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Connecting with the CALM curriculum

As their teacher reached into the bag to pull out the monkey puppet, a chorus of excited children declared “Melvin!” One friend leaned over to me, and with wide eyes asked: “Do you know Melvin?”  “Yes, I do,” I replied, and was met with a knowing look.  For the next 20 minutes, the class continued singing songs, connecting to anchor charts, games, and reading a book on feeling loved.  

But how can a puppet teach whole class strategies for self-regulation?  Based on the work of Stuart Shanker (Mehrit Centre), the team at the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre (CALM curriculum), has developed a program for our early learners (K-2) to build their skills in regulation, connection, communication, and literacy. And it is making a difference.  According to teacher Kizzy Knorn, who has been using the kit in her classroom for the last 3 years, the benefits of developing a common language, practicing strategies for solving problems, connecting to literacy, and building community have been some of the positive outcomes of sharing the CALM curriculum with her students. Teacher Erin Spielman has been using the kit for 3 weeks and has noticed that the tools and strategies are building interpersonal and self-regulation skills with her students. 

The songs, activities, and lessons are engaging and are connected to the Early Learning Framework.  “This framework connects neuroscience, theoretical research, positive psychology and intentional praxis to strengthen and support the social and emotional well-being and capabilities of” children and the adults who work with them (FVCDC).  Children who practice these skills in the early years develop fundamental self-regulation strategies for their futures.  Encouraging students to be “calm, alert, and ready to learn” and giving them strategies to name and experience emotions, while connecting in community, sets them up to be successful.  The school district is proud to be in partnership with the team at the Fraser Valley Child Development Center and is looking forward to expanding this program from K-2 in the coming years. 

If you are interested in learning more about the CALM curriculum, including training or piloting the program in your primary (K-2) classroom, please contact karen.vanegmond [at] abbyschools.ca.  Teachers will be eligible to receive the teaching tools, curriculum, books, and supplies for their participation in this project.  For more information about the CALM curriculum, check out the website:  www.connectwithcalm.ca.

KAREN VAN EGMOND
SEL Helping Teacher, Learning Support Services Department