Our town is a small community in central Indiana. Our school population is ever growing. Students come from diverse backgrounds and all have unique needs. As a Speech Language Pathologist, I work with children with communication impairments. Among the diverse population, I have many children who struggle to interact socially with others. For example, a student may struggle to have a back and forth conversation with friends at lunch or to make eye contact and his/her communication partner may think he/she is ignoring or disinterested.
Kindergarteners, first graders and second graders are beginning to learn about emotions and what their bodies need to stay focused and under control in a school setting. Some students go to school having never sat in a structured classroom setting. The fluorescent lights beaming intense light down at them while their eyes are beginning to squint. They hear the hum of the bright lights as they sit to work on an assignment that’s too difficult. Other students near them are whispering but not at all disruptive. However, the student has overwhelming emotion building inside of him/her. He/She may begin to scream, zone out, hit, lash out at others, cry, fall to the floor, etc. Students need an area to go to within the classroom that allows them to calm down and cool down. Some students can easily be taught how to self-regulate their emotions and put themselves in a timeout prior to exploding. Having the student leave the classroom to de-escalate is an extra transition that leaves students more anxious than they were in the classroom. It also disrupts a classroom full of other students that are learning. As part of behavior management in the classroom, a Calming Corner would provide an outlet for children to deescalate, get the sensory input needed, and prepare their bodies and minds to re-enter the learning zone. Tactile letters, wobble cushions, visual timers will be used as sensory input for students to be able to stay better focused and learn. Research completed by Ben-Sasson, Carter & Briggs-Gowan found that one in every six children has sensory issues that make it hard to learn and function in school.
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