A Calming Oasis for Preschool Students
How can students self-soothe when they need to regulate their emotions? Lifeskills Preschool, a nonprofit special education school, opted to create a sensory room so that their students had an area designed for this purpose. The educators recognized the importance of teaching and giving opportunities for students to “de-escalate from maladaptive behaviors (which) is essential in a special education setting.” In addition, encouraging exploration and use of discovery skills is something Lifeskills Preschool believes is key to optimal success for their students.
Meeting Different Needs in One Action Room
Two schools in Isle of Wight County, Virginia dreamed of building sensory rooms to support their students’ needs. With grants from the Special Education Department, Lisa Phipps reached out to Fun and Function to begin working on the project. Each sensory room was designed as an action room, planned specifically to promote active movement, coordination and self-regulation.
Our Sensory Room Design Team was tasked with designing a calming room in a small space. A specific request from the school was to include a tent or hideaway spot in the sensory room. The team set to work incorporating available materials and maximizing the space available to create a room that would promote sensory integration and cognitive and motor planning development. We installed an Actionwall to encourage coordination and teamwork. To increase visual tracking and its soothing effect, the design team decided to install both a projector and bubble tube. Various seating options, including bean bags, were placed around the room, so that children can sink into them comfortably. The semi-dark playhouse was the perfect idea for a calming oasis for the kids. A weighted disc blanket also helps soothe, through deep pressure similar to receiving a hug. Gentle music and fiber optic lights transformed this room into a fully immersive experience, adding calm both visually and auditorily and preventing the students’ overstimulation.
Once each class at Lifeskills Preschool began to use the new calming sensory room, the space was deemed “phenomenal!” Teachers use positive reinforcement, learned routines and visual stimuli to teach students to proactively utilize the room as a coping strategy. There are already positive benefits for students’ inner confidence and ability to self-regulate. Lifeskills Preschool will be adding an additional sensory room in October 2020.
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