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  • Writer's pictureJessica Kaminski

Self Monitoring Using a Number Line

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

One year when I was teaching, I had a classroom with a lot of autistic students. These students taught me so much about how I communicate, because I had to be as literal as possible. It really made me think about how children's brains take in the information around them and how I expect them to interpret that information. I think sometimes I expect children to process emotions and tasks the way my brain does.

I can recall talking to a colleague about how these students had such BIG emotions. They tended to get very upset throughout the day over small moments. We spent the majority of the day trying to get students to regulate their emotions to be able to get back on task. This colleague shared with me a 1-5 scale that has forever changed my life, and now I want to share it with you.

She taught me how to think about events using a 1-5 scale. We grabbed a big piece of chart paper and wrote a number line on the board. Then, we talked about events that would happen at each of these points based on their lives. She told me to think of a 1 as every day situations where a 5 is the highest level of stress like a life threatening situation.

My students created a GIANT chart that was placed on our board. As challenges arose throughout the day, we would refer back to this chart to determine whether this event would require adult intervention. I would tell them that if it was a 1, 2, or 3, they had to work it out themselves. This really helped my students to gauge their situations and decide when to come to an adult.

Recently my neurotypical son was having a rough day. He kept saying, "this is the worst day ever!" over small events. I grabbed a piece of a paper and asked him to tell me everything that had happened. We recorded it on the piece of paper. I then drew a number line with the numbers 1-5 and explained each level. He placed each item on the number line, and we realized that many of his events seemed big at the time but were really only a 2.

We now have a saying in our home when things seem too big- "What level are you really feeling?" My kids will refer back to the chart and know I only intervene when it's a 4 or a 5. This will definitely be something I will be implementing again this school year.

I challenge you to consider how this chart could help your students to self regulate while getting a different perspective. Grab your blank chart below for FREE and begin brainstorming ideas for each level. I even encourage you to draw a picture of a face of what that level might feel like next to the number. Then, post the chart where your students can see it!

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