Select Page

Today was a Day 4, which means that I have a prep period at the end of the day: it’s music. Since we don’t have a separate music room at our school, our music teacher comes to our classroom with a large cart of instruments and a traveling stereo to support many singing and dancing activities. During this period, I’m usually trying to upload documentation from our day, so I often sit over at our eating table to do so. I can’t help but watch the children as I work, and my teaching partner, Paula, often does the same. It was one of our observations today that inspired this post. 

This music class is often a very loud and active one, and while the children love the regular songs and dances that they do each week, sometimes the noise and activity can feel overwhelming at the end of the day. Paula noted that there were three children today — one SK child and two JK children— that chose not to participate in all of the songs and dances. 

  • They sat back and watched. A couple of the children swayed along to the music, but did not stand up to dance.
  • One child clapped along quietly, but chose to observe from the periphery.
  • Another child decided to sit on the sofa, read a book, and write her own alphabet chart.  

As Paula noted in our discussion, all three of these children self-regulated. They knew that the music program was too much for them at this time, and instead of getting actively involved, becoming dysregulated, and ending the day on a bad note, they all chose calmer options. They still enjoyed the songs. They still liked watching the dances. But they knew that they couldn’t partake successfully at this time of the day. 

And as Paula and I celebrated the fact that all three of these young children knew what they needed, I had to wonder, would their choices from today always be seen in a positive light? None of these children complied with what was being expected. Our music teacher knew what they needed, and so supported their decisions, but is there a chance that they could have been questioned for not following the norm? I think back to many of my teaching experiences. 

  • Would I have seen these children as disrespectful or disobedient? 
  • Would I have said that they can’t self-regulate because they don’t follow instructions? 

I wonder if this very scenario highlights the difference between self-regulation and self-control. How do we create classroom environments where we support self-regulation first? For I know that I could have insisted that any one of these three children join in on the music activity as the rest of the class did, but I guarantee you that they would not have ended the day as calmly as they did. They knew what they needed. Are we always ready to listen to them?

Self-Reg Seeds Learning Journey Symbol of a seed sprouting 2 leafs

What is Self-Reg?

Self-Reg is a pathway to calm, resilience, motivation, learning, & well-being.

Early Years



The Shanker Method

5 Domain Framework

Free Self-Reg 101 Webinar

Our Mission & Values

About Stuart Shanker

Self-Reg Sunrise Learning Journey symbol of a sunrise over a leaf

Explore how learning Shanker Self-Reg can help your approach to behaviour, dysregulation, emotions and any of the challenges that brought you to Self-Reg as a someone who cares.

Level 1 Certificate Programs

*NEW* Education Assistants

Early Childhood Development

Self-Reg Foundations

School Leadership

ASK Courses

Reframing Bullying

Enhancing Resilience

Self-Reg Parenting

Learning for Teams

On-Demand Webinars

Upcoming Events

Summer Symposium

Book a Presenter

Self-Reg Quilt Learning Journey Symbol of a leaf in a patch of a quilt

Self-Reg can be practical, community based and woven with other initiatives, movements or priorities. How can you bring Self-Reg to your community or context?

What is Applied Self-Reg Knowledge?

Blogs & Vlogs


Webinars & Upcoming Events

School Leadership Certificate

Learning Facilitator's Certificate

Living, Learning & Linking Certificate

Self-Reg Schools Handbook


Mentoring & Consulting

Self-Reg Haven Learning Journey Symbol of two hands holding and nurturing a leaf up

Havens are our dream for all! A Self-Reg Haven is a place where everyone feels safe in every way: physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

I Know a Haven When I Find One

5 Self-Reg Haven Look Fors

Havens 101: Group Learning

RADAR Project Planning Tool

Self-Reg Schools Handbook

a far off silhouette of 9 people looking into a stormy sunset

Enhancing Resilience In Children & Youth

Resilience is a STATE, not a TRAIT - Certificate Program Starts June 20th

Facilitated Certificates

Self-Directed Courses

On-Demand Webinars

Events - Live & Online

Tools & Strategies

Speakers & Presentations

Books & Publications

Blogs & Vlogs


Graphics with Blogs



Translated Resources

Media Releases

Meet Our Team


Contact Us