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The Zones of Regulation

Quick Overview

Leah Kuypers will be running her Zones of Regulation Workshop in Brisbane on Friday 5 May 2017 and Melbourne on Monday 8 May 2017.

The Zones of Regulation is a curriculum designed to foster skills in self-regulation, improving emotional control, sensory regulation and the ability to exercise executive functioning skills. The approach uses four colours (or “zones”) to help students visually and verbally self-identify how they are functioning in the moment given their emotions and state of alertness.

The lessons in the book teach students how to use strategies or tools to stay in a zone or move from one to another. Students explore calming techniques, cognitive strategies and sensory supports so they will have a toolbox of methods to help them move between zones. To deepen students’ understanding of how to self-regulate, the lessons set out to teach students these skills: how to read others’ facial expressions and recognize a broader range of emotions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, insight into events that trigger their less regulated states, and when and how to use tools and problem solving skills.

The curriculum’s learning activities are presented in 18 lessons. To reinforce the concepts being taught, each lesson includes probing questions to discuss and provides instructions for one or more learning activities. Many lessons offer extension activities and ways to adapt the activity for individual student needs. The curriculum also includes worksheets, other handouts, and visuals to display and share. These can be photocopied from the book or printed from the accompanying USB drive.

In addition, there are three Zones of Regulation posters to support the concepts in the classroom. Click the links for more information about Zones of Regulation Poster,  Zones STOP, OPT and GO Poster and Zones Triggers Poster.  All three posters are Dry Erase, so you can write on them!

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Who can teach The Zones of Regulation?

The curriculum is designed to be taught by anyone who works with students who struggle with self-regulation. This can include, but is not limited to, special education and regular education teachers, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, psychologists, counselors, behaviorists, social workers, and parents. Throughout the text, the user is referred to as “teacher”; however, this does not mean you need to be a classroom teacher to teach the lessons.

Who can benefit from The Zones?

The Zones curriculum is designed for students who struggle with self-regulation. Sometimes deficits in regulation could be a manifestation of a neurobiological disorder and/or a social-learning challenge, but not everyone who has difficulty regulating has a diagnosis. Initially the curriculum was developed for students with neurobiological and mental health disorders, such as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder, and anxiety disorders. However, it became apparent that the curriculum can reach a much broader population. All people in general can benefit from The Zones of Regulation, not just the students. When one student starts using The Zones, often parents and teachers find it helps the other children and even themselves. Adults who teach The Zones report better insight into their own states and become more aware of the tools they can use to regulate. Everyone experiences difficulties in regulation from time to time, prompting many regular education teachers to adopt it for use with their whole class.

The Zones lessons are designed to be used with students as young as preschool age (around four years old) if cognitively they are at or above average intellect, elementary students, secondary students, and adults. Where relevant, the lessons suggest ways to do the activities with younger students (preschool to early elementary years) and older students (upper elementary or middle school through high school or adulthood). More mature secondary age students and adults may feel that some of the activities are too “childish” for them but can still benefit from the discussions laid out in the lessons. The depth of understanding will vary depending on the students’ age and grade level, cognition, and maturity, and teach- ing expectations need to be tailored for specific students and groups. For example, you would rarely set a goal for a preschool student to indepen- dently regulate by using a tool when facing a stressful situation. You will want to customize how concepts are presented depending on the age and grade level of the students; with younger students, you’ll need to simplify some of the discussions.

Although the majority of the lessons are targeted toward students with average to above-average intelligence, some accommodations are provided to allow you to adapt activities for more cognitively involved students or those with less language. Students with lower cognition may not develop as deep an understanding of The Zones, but with consistent exposure, many are able to gain awareness of their zones and follow visual supports to guide them to activities that aid in self-regulation. You may need to further adapt the concepts presented when you teach students with cognitive impairments.

Chapter 1 explores the components of self-regulation, explains how the curriculum developed, and describes The Zones themselves and related vocabulary. In Chapter 2, you’ll learn what you need to do to begin using the lessons with your students. The curriculum’s lessons are presented in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. Chapter 6 includes additional background information about the conceptual basis for The Zones. The Appendix includes frequently asked questions, a set of goals that can be used for IEP documents, recommended resources, footnotes, and the bibliography.

About Leah

Leah Kuypers earned a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Graduate Certificate in Autism and a MA in Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. She has practiced as an OT/autism specialist in school and clinical settings, specializing in self-regulation and social learning, and has worked with students of all ages and challenges, including anxiety, ADHD, and ASD. In addition to working with students, she provides trainings and consultation to parents and professionals on self-regulation and challenging behavior, as well as offers workshops on the Zones to groups across North America. She currently resides in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son, daughter and dog.

The perfect companion or follow-up to The Zones of Regulation

The newly released YouCue Feelings is the perfect companion to The Zones of Regulation. The author of "Zones" Leah Kuypers says of YouCue Feelings: "This is a must have resource for teachers, therapists and parents supporting the development of social emotional skills. Through the use of engaging videos, YouCue Feelings provides learning activities that appeal to the students, making learning fun and builds fundamental skills in emotional recognition in self and others, social cognition and contextual awareness."  You can read more about YouCue Feelings here.

About the Zones of Regulation App

New update released August 2013 with lots of good stuff! Extend learning with the Zones of Regulation app! Developed by author Leah Kuypers and software company Selosoft, it supplements the lessons in the book with interactive games filled with adventure and rewards. Students build their own toolbox to identify triggers that impact how students are feeling and help with emotional regulation. You can purchase the app at the Google PlayAmazon, or Apple App Store

To learn more about the Zones of Regulation app click here!


  • For: Parents and professionals
  • Ages: Primary school through High school
  • Published: 2011
  • Publisher: Think Social Publishing, Inc.
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 200
  • CD: All handouts included on CD, Mac & PC compatible
  • Item: 9780982523162
  • ISBN: 9780982523162