Highlights from Turtle Time 2019-2020 Share +

Highlights from Turtle Time 2019-2020


Turtle Time Program Overview

Turtle Time is a program offered by Coronado SAFE in preschool and kindergarten classes. The program consists of 5 sessions per class over the semester. Each session is 10-15 minutes in duration. Turtle Time is based on the Turtle Technique, an evidenced-based Cognitive Behavior Intervention strategy that focuses on teaching children self-control to modify disruptive behavior. The program teaches children techniques to calm themselves and increase appropriate behavior. Specifically, the Turtle Technique is introduced by telling an initial story about Tucker the Turtle and how he deals with anger or frustration by ducking inside his shell to take 3 deep breaths and think of calm solutions. This is accompanied by a turtle hand puppet to demonstrate to the children. Children practice ‘tucking’ themselves inside their shirts or covering their faces to breath and think of solutions, first as a group and then individually. These skills are then practiced in a variety of ways throughout the school year during the course of regular class instruction in order to reinforce the concepts and make them second nature. During the 2019-2020 school year, Coronado SAFE provided the Turtle Time program to a total of 285 children in 19 PreK and Kindergarten classrooms at four Coronado school sites.



Parent Survey

Parents of children who were part of the Turtle Time Program were asked to complete a survey about changes in their child’s behavior after completion of the Turtle Time Program. The post-Turtle Time survey asked parents to rate their observations about changes in 1) Aggressive behavior when their child became upset; 2) Child’s use of non-aggressive behavior when upset or angry; 3) Impulse control of their child without external prompting; 4) Their child’s use of appropriate responses to negative situations; 5) Their child’s use of relaxation techniques to calm themselves; and 6) Their child’s ability to problem solve for appropriate behavior choices. All questions were asked on a 1-5 scale where 1 = “no change” and 5= “a great deal of change”.



Figure 1 provides the results for the parent surveys. As Figure 1 shows, improvement occurred in all areas, but the greatest improvement was in the use of problem solving followed by more use of appropriate responses to negative situations. These results suggest that the children are using the time they gain during the Turtle Time Technique to access their more logical thinking skills, and thus are able to respond more appropriately and with their own solutions.





Staff Surveys

Staff were asked to complete a survey to provide information on behaviors of the children in their classes both before and after the Turtle Time Program was implemented.  They were first asked to estimate how often behaviors such as hitting, fighting, impulsivity and tantrums occurred in their classes. Staff were then asked how many students in their class engaged in hitting, could control impulsivity, appropriately respond to negative situations and implement relaxation techniques on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 = “All of my students” to 5 = “None of my students”. A total of 9 staff filled out the pre-survey and 5 filled out the post-survey. From the responses received, it was noted:

  • The most commonly occurring negative behaviors included yelling/calling out and not paying attention in class
  • The frequency of hitting and fighting decreased in the post-survey but the frequency of other behaviors remained about the same
  • The most notable improvements came in the numbers of children who exhibited preferred behavior after the Turtle Time Program including an increase in the number of children who could control impulsivity, respond appropriately to negative situations, implement relaxation techniques and use problem solving and a slight decrease in the number of students who engaged in hitting (see Figure 2).


Figure 2: Pre- and Post- Behaviors Exhibited by at Least Some of the Students 




The Turtle Time Technique involves asking children to recognize when they have overwhelming emotions and respond to this by covering their faces and taking several deep breaths. Before this technique was implemented teachers and parents noticed impulsive, sometimes aggressive and sometimes inappropriate responses to negative situations. After the technique was introduced both teachers and parents reported seeing positive gains in responding appropriately to negative situations and problem solving. It seems likely that even the technique allowed the children to put enough distance between themselves and the negative stimulus to be able to utilize their logical thinking skills and regulate their behavior themselves.