What Might Co-Regulation Make Possible?

Self-Reg for parents, photo of man and son sitting on the grass together

While I usually reflect the most on Self-Reg, this past week, a combination of experiences have me thinking more about co-regulation. It all started when Mr. Cumming began his ECE Field Placement in our class. He’ll be joining our class for six weeks, every Wednesday to Friday. The children loved getting to know him this week, and many children really connected with him.

One of the students who connected with him the most is J. This child has autism, and I really appreciate his mom letting me share some of his story here. From the time that Mr. Cumming joined our classroom, J. went up to him, wanted to show him what he created, and even wanted to sit near him. Usually J. starts his time inside in a little tire chair in front of a long bench, where he creates words and tells stories with magnetic letters. With Mr. Cumming there, J. wanted to bring his magnetic letters to the desk, so that the two of them could be closer to each other. Mr. Cumming’s presence had J. paying even more attention to stories, video clips, and images shared on the SMART Board during different meeting times. Closeness mattered. They didn’t need to talk, but Mr. Cumming’s very presence down at J’s level, seemed to bring about an incredible feeling of calm in J. I mentioned in this post that this could be “Self-Reg in action,” but now I wonder if it was more a case of co-regulation.

This moment happened at the beginning of our day, almost three hours before this second moment. In this next Instagram story, we highlighted how J. retold the book, Color Blocked, through his picture story. This book was the one that he listened to as he sat beside Mr. Cumming that morning. J. never tells unfamiliar stories in this way, and usually draws and talks about similar topics, including many stories about Mickey Mouse Jr.

Thinking about how the day unfolded, I have to wonder if some co-regulation earlier in the morning allowed for some unexpected and wonderful learning to happen later. As Stuart Shanker and Susan Hopkins have shared numerous times before, Self-Reg begins with relationships. Is the same true for co-regulation? Could our very presence at times be enough to make a difference for kids, and what impact might this also have on academic learning? Reflecting on these experiences from this past week have me thinking about the connection between co-regulation, academics, and success. What about you?

Our Co-Reg Community Facilitator, Aviva Dunsiger has been an active Self-Reg blogger for a number of years. 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.