Students get into the zone at Mulga Street Primary School

Students get into the zone at Mulga Street Primary School

10 Mar 23


Wearing headphones, tucked up on an oversize beanbag and looking the very picture of relaxation, 11-year-old Nicole is deep into mindfulness program Smiling Mind.

Story and images by Kate Hill.

Four giant beanbags have become a firm student favourite.

Comfortable spaces and calming activities are the order of the day at Mulga Street Primary School’s Wellbeing Room, where students are able to check in and choose an activity that puts them in the right frame of mind for learning.

Recent success through OneFortyOne’s Community Grants program has allowed for some new additions to the school’s Wellbeing Room, which has quickly grown into a popular student space, explains Student Wellbeing Leader Keston Green.

“The Wellbeing Hubs are amazing,” she said, of the small, brightly coloured hubs, funded through the program and built at Grant High School, where students come to ‘regulate’ themselves through reading or quiet time.

“The students come in, pick a space and they’ll sit there and colour or do some learning. They’re not massive spaces but they’re the perfect size for a child and an adult.”

Student size: Mulga Street Student Wellbeing Leader Keston Green in one of the Wellbeing Hubs

The ‘Zones of Regulation’ framework and curriculum, which equips children in early learning environments with the tools to understand and regulate their feelings and emotions, underpins the need for safe spaces such as the hubs.

“Really, it’s about children being able to identify the feelings and emotions that they have,” Keston explains.

“If they’re feeling sad or angry or frustrated, we find they’re not in that frame of mind to learn so they can take five minutes and go to the Wellbeing Room, find a safe space to sit and do something until they’re ready to go back into the classroom.”

Upon entering the room, students will add a star to the wall on the regulation zone poster, indicating which of the four coloured zones they are in, then settle into one of the many spaces, hubs or beanbags for an activity of their choice.

The Zones of Regulation framework equips children with the tools to understand and regulate their emotions

“It teaches the kids to use different tools and strategies that they can use if they’re not in the green zone, which is what we call the “ready to learn” zone,” Keston said.

Whereas adults might rely on caffeine to focus, kids may need something as simple as a drink of water or to read a book to get them back in the learning zone.

Sometimes, the Wellbeing Room works its magic in as little as 10 minutes and students feel ready to go back to class.

“It’s about getting them back into a learning mind frame and ready to learn again,” Keston said.

While part of the grant went towards hub materials, curriculum books and a board game, there was enough to fund a student favourite – four giant sinkable beanbags, away in quiet nooks.

Students check into the Wellbeing Room for some reading, colouring or quiet time

On a Thursday afternoon, Year 5 student Nicole is one of three students in the Wellbeing Room and makes a beeline for her favourite beanbag.

“They’re just comfy and they feel like my bed,” she said. “When I come here, it makes feel calmer than I was before.”

The beanbags aren’t empty for long though, laughs Keston, as teachers always seem to find a vacant spot.

“Once you’re in there, you don’t want to get out basically.”

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