William Patten Primary School
Stoke Newington Church Street
London N16 0NX
Office Manager: Rita Quigley
SENDCo: Caitlin Shaw

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020 7254 4014

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William Patten Primary School


Zones of Regulation is an approach that supports the use of a consistent shared language to discuss emotions. Emotions are grouped into four colour zones which represent different groups of feelings. The idea of zones is to take a non-judgmental approach to discussing and supporting children with their emotions. All emotions are natural to experience and we can learn to recognize and manage our feelings in different contexts.

We use the Zones of Regulation  to encourage children’s ability to:

  • Recognise their emotions
  • Name their emotions
  • Express their emotions in a healthy way
  • Use strategies to support them with regulating their emotions
  • Understand the emotions of others and develop empathy and friendship skills


The Zones can be compared to traffic signs:

  •  When you are in the Green Zone you are ‘good to go’.
  • A yellow sign means be aware or take caution which applies to the Yellow Zone.
  • A red light or stop sign means stop and when you are in the Red Zone this is often what you need to do.
  • The Blue Zone can be compared to a rest area sign. You may need to rest or re-energise.

How do we use the Zones of Regulation in School?

  • Every classroom has a zones display which is often linked to the ‘calm corner’.
  • School staff model using the language of zones to talk about their feelings and strategies they use to regulate.
  • Teachers do regular zones check-ins with their classes and link this to using strategies such as mindfulness and movement breaks.
  • Teaching Assistants might do individual zones check-ins with some children.
  • We have a zones ‘tool of the week’. This could be a strategy such as a breathing technique or mindfulness exercise. Posters go up around the school and in classes and each class will practice that strategy and discuss what zone it might be good for.

 What can I do as a parent?

  • Talk to your child about how they are feeling, help them to label and name their emotion. Identify your own feelings using Zones language in front of your child (e.g. “I’m frustrated; I am in the yellow zone”)
  • Talk about their body cues when they feel that emotion. What are the physical feelings behind the emotion (e.g. feeling butterflies in our tummy when we feel nervous or worried). Recognising emotions is the first step to regulating them.

Here are some examples from the four zones:
– I can see and hear that you’re crying, your mouth is turned down, are you feeling sad?
Green – I can see your big smile and hear your laughter, are you feeling happy?
Yellow – You have become very quiet and I can see that you are reluctant to speak, are you feeling worried?
Red – I can hear that you are breathing heavily and I can see that your eyebrows have bunched together, are you feeling angry?

Discuss why they are feeling a certain way, has anything happened?
Talk about times when you, a family member or a character from a film or book felt that way.

The Tool Box

We encourage children to think of the strategies that they use to support them when they are in a zone as their ‘tools. ‘The ‘tool of the week’ will be published in the Patten Pages.
You could try that with your child and discuss what zone it might be good for.
Deep breathing is one of the many beneficial strategies to teach your child. Your child can learn to change short, shallow breaths that can cause hyperventilation to deep, long breaths that help create a feeling of internal calmness. Short, shallow breaths tend to make feelings of anxiety and anger worse, hence calm breathing can give your child a sense of control and relief.

Yoremikids has some great breathing techniques, click on the link to give them a try.