I remember sitting in school. Well, I remember fidgeting in school. Sometimes it felt as if my body would explode if I had to sit one more minute. Then the headache would come, and then finally the recess bell would ring. I bolted to the swings. Just a few minutes on a swing put me right back into my happy place.
Today, kids are asked to sit for longer, there attention spans are shorter and there are no swings on playgrounds.
We all know the struggle. Attention. Teachers need to teach and kids WANT to learn but sometimes their bodies and brains are disconnected. What you witness might be fidgeting, lethargy, inappropriate behavior, over excitement, forgetfulness, inattentiveness, lack of focus and more. But, what if you could reconnect their bodies and their minds so your children could instantly become ACTIVE learners, engaged learners. Well, a Chill Spa or Action Room might just do the trick!
What is a Chill Spa?
A Chill Spa is a room converted into an oasis in your school, home or clinic. It can be filled with anything that is soothing and calming: tools that rock and vibrate, sounds that soothe the ears and lights that dazzle the eyes. A Chill Spa, often known as a sensory room or multi sensory environment, can calm the most hyper individual. It is like a day at the beach listening to the waves crash to the shore. Although certain pieces of equipment are ideal: bubble tubes, fiber optic lights, lighted tunnels, calming swings and rocker boards, you can fill your room with items that fit your own budget, space and needs. A Chill Spa ideally should be dark with white mats. Why white? White induces calm. A corner mirror with an interactive bubble tube is generally a staple for any multisensory room. In addition, fiber optic lighting, a projector with an image wheel and other soft lighting can be used. The room is either quite or with very soothing classical type music. There is often the option of a tunnel or reclining chair as well as a hammock type swing. The sights, sounds and gentle rocking motion bring the attention of the individual to their senses and away from external stimulation. Generally we recommend only 1-3 students in a room at a time with a facilitator. Twenty minutes in a Chill Spa is just enough to go back to class focused and calm.
What is an Action Room?
An Action Room brings a sensory gym into any space that you allocate. It can be the size of a closet or an entire room. This type of room can have balance boards, balance beams, rocking boards, active swing, trampoline, floor activity, climbing wall and of course protective matting. An Action Room provides equipment that encourages coordinated activity (not just recess) so that children through adults can reconnect their bodies with their brains. It is best used during intervals (before school, break time) to minimize outbursts or less than stellar behavior and maximize focus and concentration, the effects of time spent in the Action Room. It is not used as a recess room or gymnasium. An Action room will often host an active swing that requires coordinated movement, a trampoline for increasing heart rate, balance equipment for stimulating equilibrium responses and climbing equipment for heavy work.
Which one do we choose?
There is no magic answer, but take a look at your school, camp or program. If you have room for both, go for it! They have very different effects. In general I recommend Action Rooms for children on the milder side of the spectrum and Spa Chill Rooms for those schools or clinics handling more severely affected children. But, either can work for multiple populations. And, if you'd like a combination, that can be done as well.
What's most important is that your room is well thought through in advance and that it is monitored. The results can be, well, astounding to say the least.