Spokane elementary school counselors creating at-home calming kits

SPOKANE, Wash. — Three Spokane elementary school counselors got together over the summer to try to find a solution to an issue they saw coming.

Some students would be returning to remote learning without a designated place to process and deal with their emotions.

“Some anxiety and some depression and you know the isolation adding to the stress of maybe food insecurity and homelessness,” said counselor at Madison Elementary School Kendra Maurer.

Their schools have what’s called ‘calming corners’ or ‘calming centers’ where students can use stuffed animals, glitter jars, coloring pages and more to calm down.

These materials are also a part of the calming techniques the counselors typically do with students.

“Managing big emotions, dealing with worries and anxiety. Just learning how to use their breath,” said Wilson Elementary School counselor Melissa Alfstad.

Now that school has gone virtual, so will the calming corners in the form of kits.

The three counselors started a Donors Choose page and received grant money for everything that will go in the calming kits.

“A glitter jar is going to be included and then we have a stress ball, there’s going to be some worry beads that we’re going to help them assemble and then some coloring pages,” said Alfstad.

Madeline Sells, the counselor at Grant Elementary, says she plans on holding seminars about how to use the calming tools.

“School-wide, individual. Just whatever the need is for the in-particular student,” said Sells.

Maurer says she once had a student who was frustrated by not being able to see a virtual activity during remote learning.

“We can give them that subtle reminder of you know maybe you want to use your stress ball or turn your glitter jar over and just watch it settle,” said Maurer.

It doesn’t have to be a corner, but the hope is for each student to have a little piece of peace with them while they’re at home.

“It’s normalizing this tool that we use with them in school to then have at home also. Whatever ‘home’ is to my student,” said Sells. “Or all of our students, whatever that looks like for them.”

The kits just started getting put together this week and they should be going out to elementary students at Grant, Madison and Wilson early next month.

But if you don’t have child that goes to these schools, the counselors shared some calming tips and techniques you can use with your child at home.