Every student is different, and balancing a classroom around each one is challenging. However, by incorporating sensory components into a classroom, every student benefits. Integrate concepts of a sensory room right into your classroom to create an environment that all students will thrive in.
Commonly used for people with sensory processing disorders, sensory rooms are calming safe-havens. Sensory rooms avoid triggering sensory stimulation through dedicated design and planning. They achieve this through specific colors, lighting, and other components. Also, since there are many sensory processing disorders, every sensory room is unique.
A classroom must focus on all students, but by incorporating calming sensory ideas into a school, each pupil benefits from the improved setting. From targeted colors to special lighting to help focus, here are three ideas to incorporate in an integrated sensory classroom.
Focus on the Colors.
The color of a room influences the people within it, even those without sensory issues. For example:
- Hot colors, including red and orange, stimulate and energize.
- Cool colors, like blue and green, are calming and soothing.
- Neutral colors, such as gray and tan, improve focus and attentiveness.
The colors of a classroom dictate how engaged the students are. Bright white walls may be harsh and off-putting to many students, especially those with sensory issues. Likewise, numerous bold splashes of hot colors can overstimulate.
Look to color the room in cool and earth tones. Muted cool colors are easy to process. As well, because cool tones have shorter wavelengths, they are less likely to stimulate the brain. Gentle pastel colors elicit feelings of peace, which leads to better receptiveness during lessons.
Likewise, neutral and earth tones make great color replacements. Neutral colors are easy to integrate and avoid overstimulating the brain.
When choosing colors, opt for a uniform design. Even with cool tones, too many shades can overstimulate and cause issues. Consider making certain areas of the room devoted to different colors. A calming corner can feature muted pastel blues and greens, whereas the learning area can use tans and grays to maintain focus.
Lighting is Important.
Like colors, lights can help or hinder students with sensory issues. Bright, flickering, or even noisy lights are harsh triggers for many people. And the stark white of fluorescent lights found in many classrooms often reduces students’ ability to learn.
In your classroom, focus on gentle lighting that helps students learn while staying calm. Short-wave lights, including blues and greens, are calming and help students focus. Even turning down the intensity of existing lights improves the feel of a room.
For more targeted lighting ideas, consider:
- Light filters to place over existing room lights. These are useful in specific areas of the room.
- Light-up wall panels create interactive light features.
- Bubble lights and fiber-optic curtains for tranquility. These lights help redirect focus, and calm an overstimulated mind.
Visual stimulation triggers will vary from child to child. Therefore, opt for gentle lighting over all else. Use colors for specific mood needs, such as calming the entire room, or creating a calming corner.
Simply switching fluorescent tubes out for LEDs brings a host of sensory improvements. LEDs often feature programmable colors, duration, and effects. With such lighting control, a teacher can provide real-time sensory support based on student needs.
Bring in Soothing Sounds.
Plenty of sounds in school are distracting. Slamming lockers, humming lights, and talking students are normal, everyday sounds in school. Still, these sounds often get in the way of learning for children with sensory processing issues.
For some, distracting sounds exacerbate communication issues. Non-verbal students and those currently in speech therapy may feel trapped beneath an unpleasant sound. For others, distracting sounds cause meltdowns and hyperstimulation. Plus, they create an unproductive learning environment.
Teachers don’t have the power to eliminate all distracting sounds, especially those outside the classroom. However, they can control the sound within the room.
The following are great sound ideas for a classroom or sensory room:
- Soft, comfortable seats, pillows, and cushions. These help to deaden sounds, thus reducing the possibility of a sudden, startling noise. This extra cushion also creates a soothing place to relax and calm down.
- Play gentle background sounds throughout the day. Non-distracting noises, such as nature sounds, provide a background baseline for students to follow.
- Noise-canceling headphones help keep students in the moment. Have several pairs on hand to avoid meltdowns and support students through distracting sounds.
Soothing sounds maintain peace in a classroom, and a calm classroom helps every student.
Final Thoughts on Sensory Rooms
Bringing sensory-sensitive ideas into the classroom creates a space that helps all students. Creating an optimum classroom begins with considering all sensory issues. By doing so, teachers help every student receive the education they deserve.
Other posts from Exceptional Thinkers that you may like:
- Secrets to Understanding Sensory Issues in Kids
- Learning to Read… With Autism
- How to Differentiate Instruction
- Fun Family Activities
Keep teaching. Keep learning.
~Christy from Exceptional Thinkers
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