Classroom Sensory Tricks
If you have ever received a note from your child’s teacher or a phone call saying your child seems to be disconnected from the class and isn’t grasping concepts, you may not know exactly what is happening to your child. Why are they acting out? Why are they fidgeting in their seat? Why can’t they focus? Even if your child is pulling good grades, but still has trouble in school, it can be hard to know exactly how to help your child. We all want our children to succeed in school to the best of their ability, but the truth is, not every child learns the same.
There are so many factors that can hinder or advance our child’s learning in the classroom. For some students it is a matter of the sensory input they are receiving while learning. There are students who receive too much sensory input and need to get that energy out, while there are others who don’t receive enough sensory input.
Just as everyone learns differently in a classroom, every student has a different sensory input that helps them learn or not learn in a classroom. Because every student learns a different way, there also needs to be a way that every single one is given the chance to learn to the best of their ability. Children can succeed in school, even if they have to learn a little bit differently.
As parents, we have the responsibility to see that our children are healthy and progressing in life. Teachers may not always know how to help our children if they are struggling in school or they may not have time to focus on individual students in class with their heavy workload. That means it falls to us to find alternative ways to help our kids.
If you notice your child has trouble with sensory input, there are many ways we can help them cope with their emotions in class so they can focus better without disrupting the teacher or their classmates. Not every child will need a sensory plan, but giving your child the tools to better learn in their everyday lives will help them advance in school. There are so many activities for all ages, allowing kids to grow and learn better. From crafts to puzzling games, there are hundreds of activities that can help our children become better students.
Listen to Calm Music
Music has a special ability to move our emotions; make us mad, sad or happy. When a child is getting sensory overload in a classroom, a way to help them is to give them something that will keep them calm and help them focus better. Classical music or calm instrumental music can help keep kids calm and focused on the task at hand.
If your child tends to disrupt the class or others around them, talk to the teacher about making some adjustments with seating or with circle time or when they stand in line. The important goal is to not make them feel singled out or punished for their behavior. Some of it can’t be controlled, but can be improved. For example, when the kids line up for lunch or when they go to the library, ask the teacher to have your child in the front of the line so he or she isn’t distracted by the other kids and doesn’t fall behind. As for special seating, each child differs in their needs. You may want to ask the teacher to position your child where there is less noise and sunlight. The best spot may be upfront and close to the teacher so they can’t always see what is happening behind them. It also gives kids the opportunity to see and hear the teacher better so they can understand the instructions given to them.
Tests are stressful for any student. For some students though, being in a classroom with a number of others can worry them and make them lose their focus while taking the test. If a child has sensory issues and needs to be in a class with less kids while taking a test, let a teacher know. Teachers will most likely be happy to make special exceptions for sensory students so they can successfully take tests and do well. Tests may also have to be given using other methods than paper, pencil and multiple choice questions. If you have special permission, teachers may need to give your child the test verbally or visually instead of in writing. Help the teacher understand your child’s needs and how they learn best.
Circle Time Cushion
Children get excited when they get together as a group, especially during circle time. This can also be a time where sensory students may struggle to stay attentive. If your child’s teacher is ok with your child bringing a sensory cushion to sit on, it may help calm them during circle time or at the library when they are surrounded by other children. A sensory cushion lets your child move around a bit while staying in their chair.
If your child struggles to stay still during circle time or is constantly fidgeting at their desk, you may want to see if the teacher is willing to have a silent timer your child can see and can use. Sitting still for an entire day can be daunting and seem impossible for many sensory students so a good way to prevent distraction is to have a visual timer that shows how much longer they need to stay in their seat. When the timer runs out, ask the teacher if they can move around or do some exercises at their desk for a short break before they reset the timer for the next round of topics.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
23 Feb 2017