My Cubby Room Conundrum: Is It Time To Reframe “Hiding?”

My Cubby Room Conundrum: Is It Time To Reframe “Hiding?”

Sometimes we have those experiences that stick with us, even weeks later. That’s what happened here. I still remember the day, the child, and the moment my thinking changed.

It was late one afternoon and we were getting ready to tidy up. We probably should have started earlier, but there was so much great learning happening that we waited until the last minute. Moments before we were about to begin, one student got upset. She had an argument with some friends, and while we tried to give her space, offer hugs, and talk her through it, she was not calming down. She continued to cry. Even giving her the option of a drink, which tends to help soothe her, did nothing for her today. This child just stood in the middle of the floor and cried.

We decided to start cleaning up, with the hope that we could encourage her to join in. She’s wonderful at tidying up, loves to pick songs for our Dance Tidy, and often seems happy during the process. Today though, when the cleaning started, we noticed her walk quietly into the back cubby area. We took a look, and she was just sitting on the bench back there, so we didn’t say anything. We just let her be. 

This was a hard one for me. We’ve spoken to our students a lot about when to go into this cubby room, and about the importance of letting us know when they head there: we want to ensure that they’re always safe. This child didn’t say anything, and she didn’t go there in order to pack up her backpack or get ready for home. But with the urgent need to tidy up and the knowledge that she was safe, I resisted the urge to say anything to her.

My Cubby Room Conundrum: Is it Time to Reframe Hiding? -

About 10 minutes later, I took the first group of students back into the cubby room to pack up for home. As soon as I walked back there, I saw her packing up her bag and putting on her coat. She smiled at me and came up to give me a hug. I asked her why she came back here, and she said, “I needed space. I feel much better now, Miss Dunsiger.” I will admit that I was about to lecture this five-year-old on the importance of not leaving the classroom and telling an adult when she wanted to go back into the cubby room, but I stopped myself. Why? Because I think that this child used this space to self-regulate. She knew that she needed a quiet area, and with a busy classroom during tidy-up time, she knew that it couldn’t be there. She found the space, she took the time, and she soothed herself. There’s something so wonderful about this that I want to celebrate despite some of my reservations.

I continue to think about our classroom design. We are connected to another classroom with no door between us. Both classrooms share the cubby space. With 65 JK/SK children between these two rooms, there is always noise, and even with some blocked off areas in the classroom, some spaces on the floor, and a few nooks in which to escape, it’s hard to find quiet. It’s hard to find space.

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This child knew that and created both “quiet” and “space” when she needed it most. How can we support this, while also ensuring student safety? Do we all sometimes need the “space” that this child found, and just like with her, is it important that we take it? As an educator, I worry about “students hiding,” but as a Self-Reg advocate, I have to applaud what this JK student did. What I viewed as “hiding,” she viewed as “calm”: maybe it’s time for a reframe.

Aviva Dunsiger has been the Portal Plus Moderator for a year now and completed the Foundations 1 Certification Program. She has taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and enjoys blogging about her teaching and learning experiences. She blogs professionally on her blog, Living Avivaloca. Aviva is excited to contribute a monthly post on The MEHRIT Centre Blog.

By | 2018-01-24T16:29:42+00:00 June 13th, 2017|


  1. Megan July 28, 2017 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Aviva,

    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog (as well as the others on this site) and I can tell you that I will most definitely be back! I am currently completing a Masters course regarding self-regulated learning and I would say that I am just beginning to scratch the surface of what SRL really means and what it can look like in the classroom.

    As I wade through the academic articles and learn the theory of self-regulation in my course, I find myself asking questions like, “What does that look like?” and “How can I start incorporating SRL principles from day one in September?”. I found that reading many of your posts, I could get the sense of what being self-regulated (or dysregulated and aware of it) can do for a classroom.
    As I read this article about reframing hiding, it made me think about what else I might do, or prefer, that isn’t allowing my students to be who they are and to develop self-regulation. It got me to thinking about including student voice in classroom decisions. If I am mindful to make student voice an integral part of the classroom, perhaps that will help me “reframe hiding” (or whatever the behaviour is I’m unsure of).

    It actually connected well, I thought, with another post you made here ( about being flexible and aware of what your students are telling you. It is one thing for me to learn all of the theory around SRL, but it is most definitely another thing to make it a priority and be willing to bend and change course when it makes more sense of the young people in my classroom.

    Thanks for the honest and practical thoughts.

    • Aviva Dunsiger July 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Megan! I enjoy reading the “theory of Self-Reg,” but I also like to see and understand what this means in terms of practice. I’ve found that the more I’ve read and learned about Self-Reg, the more that I start to see situations through a Self-Reg lens. I love your connection to “student voice.” This could definitely help a lot. I also liked your comment about the need to be flexible, and really listening to what students are telling us. This kind of makes me think about something that Stuart Shanker says often: “See a child differently, and you see a different child.” Maybe we all need these reminders to adjust our views. Thank you for reminding me of this! I’d love to hear how things go and how students respond as you make changes to the classroom environment.


  2. Bonnie March 23, 2018 at 8:14 am - Reply

    This is something I am struggling with this year. I have a child who when he gets worked up has pent up energy and likes to run. His strategy is to run from the class to the gym work it out and come back. While I like that he is trying to self regulate it isn’t always the safest option because I am in a class by myself and usually have to call for backup. I’ve been trying to incorporate more of a movement area in my class to accommodate this. I also don’t have the type of space that we can have a place to hide and work things out. You have me thinking though.

    • Aviva Dunsiger March 24, 2018 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Bonnie! I understand your concern. You want to make sure that he’s safe, and it’s great that you’re trying to give him an area in the classroom to help with this. What does he do in the gym? I wonder if it’s the activity or the space that calms him. Is there always someone in the gym when he goes there? I wonder if you could work with this teacher, so that if he runs there, you know he’s safe and will return later. In the past, I’ve even had some kids go and check. Then you don’t have to buzz the office (which always seems like a punishment), but can still check for safety sake. Good luck! Would love to hear how things go.


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