SPARK funds sensory rooms to help students reach higher levels of achievement
Posted on 11/07/2018
Picture of room with small bookcase, children's size trampoline with handle, yoga matMany students benefit from quiet time, and some benefit to a greater degree than others. With this thought in mind, administrators at Loch Lomond and T. Clay Wood Elementary Schools sought and received innovative grant funding from SPARK, the PWCS education foundation, to create sensory spaces in their schools. This initiative will provide an opportunity for students to leave the stress of the classroom and refocus their energies, improve the educational environment for all students, and help parents help their child with their learning at home.

A sensory space is a special room designed to improve social-emotional behavior and provide a therapeutic experience for students, usually through special lighting, music, furniture, and equipment.

Visiting a sensory space for a brief time helps students with autism, emotional disabilities, and other special needs calm and focus themselves, so they are better prepared to learn and interact with others. A trained staff member in the room will help students to work through any difficult emotions.

“Our goal is to support all our students,” said Andrew Buchheit, principal of T. Clay Wood Elementary School. “This sensory room is another opportunity for us to support and teach our students. It should help some of our students who need additional time, movement, and diverse types of sensory interaction learn to self-regulate their emotions and behavior. We believe in all our students, but the inability of some students to remain calm inhibits their learning. We are hopeful that the sensory room will help those students who need this extra support and time. In addition, every single one of our classrooms has been given resources and items for a ‘calm down’ corner in their own classroom.”

Loch Lomond is creating five sensory spaces within three classrooms, and space in the office area and in the school counselor’s room to give students a safe, quiet place to calm themselves. A team of special and general education teachers, administrators, the school counselor, an occupational therapist, and a school psychologist have collaborated to create Loch Lomond’s sensory spaces.

“The spaces will have different areas to meet the needs of the students who are visiting,” said Loch Lomond Principal Kimberly Werle. “There will be an active area, a calming area, and several types of sensory activities and equipment. Sensory spaces will provide areas where all our students can receive positive behavioral supports. We will share with parents how their child is using the sensory space and what areas have proven beneficial for their child so these can be replicated at home where appropriate,” said Werle.

The sensory room at T. Clay Wood is housed in a central location in the school. Buchheit plans to open the sensory space to all students, so this initiative has the potential to benefit 900 students.

Enabling students to be at their best and ready to learn is Positively PWCS!

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