Federation of Earlswood Schools

A Place to Learn Together

We offer Nursery Provision to Year 6

Zones of Regulation at School

‘The Zones of Regulation’ at Earlswood


What is ‘The Zones of Regulation’? 

A supportive teaching tool to simplify how we think about and manage our feelings.

It categorises complex feelings into four coloured ‘zones’.

It improves the ability to recognise and communicate feelings in a safe, non-judgemental way. 

It helps develop ‘tools’ to enable children to move between zones.


Things to remember: 

There is no ‘bad’ zone, all zones are ‘expected’ at different times and in different circumstances.

You can be in more than one zone at a time.

Some emotions may fall into more than one zone.


Key Language:

Toolbox: a collection of calming and alerting strategies a child can draw upon (can be a literal toolbox or a collection of known strategies) 

Tools: calming or alerting strategies that support self-regulation 

Trigger: something that causes the child to become less regulated and increases the likelihood of going into the Yellow or Red Zones 

Expected behaviours: behaviours that give those around you good or comfortable thoughts about you

Unexpected behaviours: behaviours that give people uncomfortable thoughts about you

Inner Critic: negative, self-defeating thoughts

Inner Coach: positive, helpful thoughts 


How does The Zones of Regulation fit into everyday life at Earlswood?

  • The Zones of Regulation teaches children to self-regulate which is part of our SMILE expectations. 
  • Children have opportunities to reflect on how they are feeling and use tools to enable them to self-regulate throughout the day.
  • All staff have co-regulation strategies in order to support children effectively. 


The Zones



Blue Zone

The blue zone is used when a person is feeling low states of alertness.

When a child is in the blue zone, they may be feeling down – sad, sick, tired, or bored.

They’re still in control, as they are in the yellow zone, but with low energy emotions.


How would a child behave in the Blue Zone?

  • absence of feelings
  • irritability
  • lack of pleasure
  • lack of motivation
  • tearful
  • withdrawn
  • difficulty in concentrating


What coping strategies can we implement in school?

  • Exercise e.g. star jumps
  • Sensory activities e.g. hug a toy
  • Doing something that makes us happy
  • Walking and talking
  • Listening to music


Green Zone

The green zone is used to describe when a child is in a calm state of alertness.

Being in the green zone means they are calm, focused, happy, or ready to learn.

It’s the state most needed in the classroom in order to learn.


How would a child behave in the Green Zone?

  • Calm
  • Focused
  • Happy
  • Content


What strategies do we implement in school to help keep children in the Green Zone?

  • Daily sensory breaks
  • Sensory areas on the playground
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing events throughout the school year
  • Weekly PSHE lessons and SMILE Assemblies
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Learning about healthy lifestyles
  • PE lessons
  • Enrichment clubs
  • Giving children time to do things they enjoy


Yellow Zone

The yellow zone describes when you child has a heightened sense of alertness.

This isn’t always a bad thing, and they typically still have some control when they’re in the yellow zone. Being in the yellow means your child may feel frustrated, anxious or nervous. But, it could also mean they’re feeling excited, silly, or hyper.


How would a child behave in the Yellow Zone?

  • Avoiding situations
  • Avoiding social settings
  • Biting nails
  • Tearful
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Hyper-vigilant


What coping strategies can we implement in school?

  • Calming strategies e.g. breathing techniques
  • Sensory activities e.g. stretching, fidget tools
  • Drawing and colouring
  • Listening to music
  • Exercise e.g. walking


Red Zone

The red zone describes an extremely heightened state of intense emotions. When a person reaches the red zone, they’re no longer about to control their emotions or reactions. This is the zone children are in during meltdowns. Being in the red zone means a child is feeling anger, rage, terror, or complete devastation and they feel out of control.


How might a child behave in the Red Zone?

  • Shouting
  • Irritability
  • Lack of control
  • Resentful
  • Acting in an unsafe way


What coping strategies can we implement in school?

  • Take time out of the classroom
  • Time to talk through thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Writing down/drawing what’s bothering them and rip it up
  • Calming strategies e.g. breathing techniques, sensory jars
  • Sensory activities e.g. Scribble on paper and crumple it up, use a stress ball,pop bubble wrap.
  • Exercising e.g. jumping
  • Listening to music


Unexpected Behaviour

Children are taught that some behaviours are unexpected. Unexpected behaviour at school is behaviour that is unsafe to themselves or people around them. Unexpected behaviour gives people around them uncomfortable thoughts.


Children may display unexpected behaviour at school when they are in red zone. When a child is in the red zone and dysregulated, an adult will support them to regulate using the Zones of Regulation tools and strategies.