HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Dozens of preschools in Hillsborough County are bringing CALM to the classrooms. 

  • Students learning to be responsive instead of reactive
  • CALM program being implemented into Hillsborough preschools
  • Program helping students to act differently in stressful situations

When you peek inside a 4-year-old classroom, you probably don't think of "calm." 

However, at Smart Start Pre-Prep in Tampa, teachers are trying to revamp the way students act, even in the most stressful of situations. 

It's part of the C.A.L.M program — the Conscious Awareness Learning Model. 

The program teaches students and teachers how to be responsive instead of reactive to life's challenges. 

"Being reactive, you don't think, so you're going to yell. You're going to hit, you're going to throw a temper tantrum. Respond, you're going to take a breath, you're going to wait before you react," Marni Fuente, CALM program founder, said. 

Teachers start off allowing the children to make choices to show how they're feeling. And when they need a break that's what the CALM center was created for.  Through words and pictures, the students show how they're feeling.  And a safe keeper spends time with those who need a little TLC. 

Teachers started implementing the program at Smart Start this year and they say it's made quite the difference with some children. 

"They wouldn't make eye contact with us or talk to their other friends. Implementing this and creating a family atmosphere has totally changed our entire classroom," Assistant teacher Skyler Wilkinson said. 

It's all about constructive problem-solving and self-regulation.  The hope is to better prepare students for the rigors of learning and the challenges of life. 

Thirty two Hillsborough County preschools are part of the CALM program and it's funded through the Children's Board of Hillsborough County.