Calm Down Strategies for School | The OT Toolbox

Calm Down Strategies for School

A child is over responding to sensory input from the classroom environment.  The fluorescent lights are too bright, the janitor is rolling his cart down the hallway, a new pair of socks are too tight, and a fly is buzzing near a window.  The combined sensations are too much. 

The classroom is an environment that is a place where over-responsiveness can easily interfere with learning, self-confidence, or social emotional development. 

Having a toolbox of sensory strategies to address over-responsiveness can be invaluable in the classroom.  


Use these sensory calm down strategies for school to help kids with self-regulation and over responsiveness in the classroom.








Calm Down Strategies for School

Below are sensory strategies for school that can be used with children who over-respond to sensory input, have difficulties with anxiety, or struggle with attention or executive functioning difficulties.

Get a printable version of this list HERE.

A child who needs self-regulation strategies to better learn or function in the classroom can benefit from one or more of these strategies.  Every child is different and each will respond in different ways. Not all of these sensory strategies will help every child.  Consider underlying issues and consult a school-based occupational therapist for assessment and interventions.

Related Read: Try these free classroom fidget tools and sensory strategies for the classroom.


Use these sensory calm down strategies for school to help kids with self-regulation and over responsiveness in the classroom.

Sensory Strategies to help children calm down at school:

Use a predictive schedule
Limit close seating 
Minimize auditory stimulation (Utilize earbuds, sound-minimizing headphones, white noise, whisper phones)
Increase space between children
Movement breaks
Sensory seating
Provide a calm down zone
Weighted lap blanket
Try tactile tools at the desk
Decrease visual distractions (trifold, work standing at an easel, single color bulletin boards)
Use a visual schedule for transitions
Provide a warning before fire drills or bus evacuation drills
Plan an accomodate for school-wide assemblies
Provide a calm down portion of the day build into the schedule with deep breathing and soft music
Yoga breaks
Stretches before desk work or tests
Add wall push-ups or chair push-ups into the daily schedule
Water bottles with a straw at each desk (ask parents to send in sports bottles)
Allow gum during tests or quiet work time
Quiet fidget toys
Movement learning with the whole classroom




Here are more classroom sensory strategies that may help.


Use these sensory calm down strategies for school to help kids with self-regulation and over responsiveness in the classroom.

Need more information on sensory processing, grab the Sensory Processing Disorder Handbook


Use these sensory calm down strategies for school to help kids with self-regulation and over responsiveness in the classroom.



As an additional school-based OT resource, I wanted to share the Super Sensory Bundle that is on sale NOW until July 10th.  

The Super Sensory Bundle includes 38 products. When you buy, you also get over 200 printable bonus offers. The activities, games, play dough mats, exercises, and tools can be used in therapy planning and throughout the entire year. These are strategies and solutions for every sensory kiddo!
The guides in the bundle will help to create simple sensory routines that fit into a family's schedule, help parents figure out why their child responds to sensory stimulation in the ways that they do, help master sensory behaviors with simple activities, manage appointments and sensory routines, and find balance in sensory strategies.
Some of the products that stand out to me are:

  • The strengthening activities (Use these in therapy planning!) 
  • The fine motor development book with TONS of fine motor activities you can start on right now 
  • Printable yoga cards that can be used in brain break activities 
  • The emotional regulation tools and strategies- Including the Impulse Control Journal
  • Handwriting resources like The Handwriting Handbook and When Your Child Hates Handwriting Ebook 
  • The alternative seating for the classroom guide -School-based therapists will love this resource.

Seriously, this bundle is a goldmine of resources for any pediatric therapist!
This is a huge packet of resources for the home, classroom, or therapy clinic. Included in the packet:
EMOTIONAL REGULATION TOOLS AND STRATEGIES
Complete Robot Calming Toolkit Bundle
My Personal Printable Routine Schedule
The Impulse Control Journal
Unwired – A Game to Calm Anxiety
Beat Buster- A Role-Playing Game to Boss Back OCD
Emotions Dress Up Doll Kit
Pocket Sized Feelings Journal
CORE STRENGTH AND MOVEMENT BREAKS
Sensory Exercise Video Membership (one month access)
Digital Yoga Cards
Wiggle Worms: A Guide to Alternative Seating for the Classroom Ebook
Superhero Themed Brain Break Cards
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Basics of Fine Motor Skills - Developmental Activities for Kids Ebook
The Handwriting Handbook
When Your Child Hates Handwriting Ebook
Seasonal Counting Clip Cards
MULTI-SENSORY LEARNING IDEAS
Sowing the Seeds of Wonder- A Guide for Creating and Nurturing a Garden with Kids Ebook
Steam Powered Kids Learning The Senses Ebook
Slime Play Mats
Alphabet Letter Mats with Craft and Process Art Ideas (180 page resource)
A-Z Beginning Sounds Playdough Mats
Alphabet Playdough Mats
Fall Themed Playdough Mats
Four Seasons Printable Playdough Mats
BRILLIANT BOREDOM BUSTERS AND SIMPLE SENSORY PLAY IDEAS
Discover: Printable Activity Plans to Explore with Your One Year Old
Fun Surprises for Kids Ebook
Rice Play Ebook
Sports Themed Printable Boredom Busters
Sensory Bins: The What, The How, & The Why Ebook
The Homemade Playdough Recipe Ebook
PARENTING RESOURCES- Understand Sensory, Behaviors, and Get Organized
The Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils for Sensory Needs Ecourse
Unlock the Sensory Secret Ecourse
Game Changing Sensory Strategies Ecourse for Picky Eaters
The Magic 7 Ebook
Decoding Sensory Tantrums Ecourse
Scriptures for Special Needs Moms Ebook
SPD Brochure for Caregivers
The Autism Planner Workbook
Potty Training Visual Schedule
TOTAL VALUE: $294.25!

From July 6th-10th, the Super Sensory Bundle is 90% off at $29.99. And, when you get your bundle, you'll also get over 200 printable sheets, resources, activities, and tools added for free.
Get your sensory resources bundle before it goes away on the 10th! (That's next Monday!)
Sensory Bundle Base. 90 off

Working on Handwriting?