From time to time, our local school district offers an evening presentation for parents to keep us informed about the things our children are learning in the classroom.
Our last meeting focused on The Zones of Regulation, a behavioral awareness curriculum designed by Leah Kuypers, an occupational therapist and autism specialist.
The program is intended to help children recognize how variable states of alertness may impact their behaviors, and teach them skills to promote self-control and problem solving abilities.
Sound like a mouthful? I’ll translate.
Recognize anger, elation, or terror? Those out-of-control states describe people in the Red Zone.
Frustrated, anxious, excited and silly feelings run rampant in the Yellow Zone.
In the Green Zone, people are likely to be happy, focused, content and ready to learn.
If you are sad, tired, sick or bored, you are in the Blue Zone.
While life in the Green Zone is ideal, in reality we all fluctuate between these states for various reasons and for variable amounts of time each day. Finding suitable strategies to keep green for as often and as long as possible is the name of the game.
What does any of this have to do with writing? As I listened to the presentation, I found myself in a Blue Zone mood – it was late, the room was warm, and the pasta I had eaten for dinner was lulling me into daydreams. I began thinking about my picture book characters, and how I could ensure they were zipping from zone to zone in my stories, just like a “real” kid.
Let’s look at the way one pro has done it:
Pigeon in the Red Zone
Pigeon in the Yellow Zone
Pigeon in the Green Zone
Pigeon in the Blue Zone
Images from Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Disney-Hyperion, 2003)
Next time you are writing or revising your picture books, try thinking about your character’s zone, and whether the words and images you’ve chosen will ring true throughout a range of physical and emotional states. I’m no expert at actually managing my own zone awareness, but teaching little ones how to practice self- awareness and self control is definitely au courant. Check it out – even Cookie Monster is on board with the trend in his latest video!