Use these calming sensory strategies to lessen. the stress of the school day for anxiety-prone youngsters:
Designate a Quiet Space
Here, students can regroup and calm themselves down. Your quiet space can be as simple as a corner with a beanbag chair or a desk with a partition for privacy.
* A quiet space limits auditory, visual and other input. Provide students with a clear way of indicating when they need to use it. You can use a sign-up sheet or a laminated card that children can hand you.
Use the Tactile System
Fill a tactile bin with sand or dry rice or beans and let students run their hands through it. Applying deep pressure with a weighted blanket or stuffed animal also provides calming sensory input.
Oral Sensory Input can be Helpful
For many children, chewing provides calming oral sensory and proprioceptive input. Try chewy snacks, such as bagels or even gum.
* Chewigem USA has a variety of products for kids who need to chew. They include pendants and bangles which look like real jewelry.
* Sucking on a thick smoothie through a straw also may prove effective.
Try Auditory or Visual Input
Children may become overstimulated by audio or visual input, so you need to either quiet things down or dim the lights!
* Auditory strategies include using a quiet voice to get children’s attention. Also have a way to monitor classroom sound, such as a noise meter. Or, play white noise while students are working. This blocks out sounds such as chairs scraping the floor, which may be disturbing for some students. You can use these for the whole room, or only for individual students, via headphones.
* Sometimes visual input can simply be too much. Simply dimming the lights is an easy solution. It’s also important to limit other visual distractions. You may need to clear students’ desks, have them work in study carrels, or use visual dividers.
Vestibular Input can help a Child Reset
Repetitive, rhythmic input including rocking, swaying or gentle swinging can be very calming. Consider adding a rocking chair or two to your room, or have a large exercise ball handy.
Having children move slowly through a yoga sequence can provide calming stimulation to their vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems. Be sure to include calming breathing techniques.
Fine Motor Tasks can be a Great Start to the Day
When students first arrive at school, it can be beneficial for them to complete one or two quiet, independent activities to avoid their becoming overstimulated right from the start. Try having children string beads or perform pompom, fine motor sorting, file folder or fine motor learningtasks.
Combine Your Best Ideas
When it comes to finding the best solutions for each individual student, allow for some experimentation and trial and error. Often, you can combine two or more strategies; for instance, have children:
* Play in the tactile bin while listening to white noise or quiet music on headphones.
* Sit with a weighted blanket while looking at sensory bottles.
* Chew a snack while working on a calming fine motor skill.