By Brenda Myles
Some students with special needs may become overwhelmed by the typical events of the classroom and need to place to recoup or self-calm. For these students, a home base may be a helpful modification. A home base is a place in the school where the student can go to (a) plan or review the day’s events; (b) escape the stress of the classroom; (c) prevent a meltdown; or (d) regain control if a tantrum, rage, or meltdown has occurred. The location is not important — the counselor’s office, speech/language pathologist’s room, or resource room can all serve as a home base. Regardless of its location, it is essential that the home base be viewed as a positive environment. Home base is not timeout! Also, it is not an escape from classroom tasks. The student takes her class work with her to home base.
Some students need home base to be scheduled as a regular part of the day. A home base at the beginning of the day can serve to preview the day’s schedule, introduce changes in the typical routine, ensure that the student’s materials are organized, or prime for specific subjects.
Home base can also be scheduled after particularly stressful activities or classes. Lunch time is often difficult for Marco. The lunchroom is noisy and appears chaotic. Marco must be diligent to finish his lunch on time. He wants to talk with other kids during lunch, but most often his attempts to converse with the other students are unsuccessful. For all these reasons, Marco typically leaves lunch feeling mildly upset. To help him calm from lunch and be prepared for the rest of the day, he goes to home base immediately lunch. The resource room teacher in his home base helps him get organized for social studies and discusses with him some of the problems that may have occurred during lunch. Marco arrives in social studies about 10 minutes late each day. This means that he misses the opening activity, copying notes from the chalkboard, but his social studies teacher has a copy of the notes waiting on his desk.
Home base is a relatively simple intervention to use with students who are easily overwhelmed, have difficulty recognizing their stress and anxiety level and who have problems self-calming by themselves. Home base is a positive intervention that prevents behavior problems and allows the student to be successful across the day.