Helping Students Develop Self-Regulation Skills

Managing your classroom can be challenging, especially when some of your students have limited self-regulation skills. With self-regulation, students can spend more time learning and taking responsibility for managing their own behaviors.

Self-regulated students take increasing control over their own thoughts, feelings, and actions-skills that are critical for success in school and life. Self-Regulation DefinitionSome of those skills include:

  • Following rules and directions.
  • Setting goals and carrying out plans to achieve those goals.
  • Organizing and managing time and materials.
  • Using strategies and resources.
  • Staying on-task, working independently, and completing tasks.
  • Asking for help when needed.

Students with disabilities may experience difficulties with self-regulation, and these skill deficits can appear across disability categories, from specific learning disabilities to autism to ADHD. But with the right strategies, educators can help students develop these important skills!

Teaching Self-Regulation Skills Successfully

The same techniques teachers use to develop reading or math skills, can be used to help students learn self-regulation skills.

  • Arrange your classroom to promote more student independence in use of space and materials.
  • Clearly post, explain, and teach classroom rules and routines.
  • Add visuals such as labels, lists of steps, or reminders.
  • Teach students to highlight or color-code important information.
  • Incorporate technology or other organizational tools to help students organize themselves.
  • Encourage students to use an assignment calendar and break down large assignments.
  • Provide students with frequent guided practice and offer positive feedback.

With careful planning and guidance, responsibility for managing classroom behaviors can shift from educators to the students themselves. You can give your students explicit, intensive, specialized instruction that develops their self-regulation skills and helps them be more self-reliant. Your contribution to individualized or specialized instruction is vital to your students' growth academically and in life!

These tips are from the Exceptional Child online course, Self-Regulation Skills for Elementary Students, authored by Lori Korinek, Ph.D., and Sharon deFur, Ed.D.

View the full course library at www.exceptionalchild.com/course/list.

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