My school serves predominantly African-American students living in high poverty. My special education students are excited to come to school every day and learn, but they have higher needs than most other students, both academically and social-emotionally. I work with them throughout the school day and more intensively during Guided Reading class to help them become stronger readers, mathematicians, and learners.
My students have had a strong start their first grade year, and I am excited about how much potential for growth I see in them.
Many students with learning disabilities benefit from taking sensory breaks where they can engage in "heavy work" - pulling or pushing heavy weights (or just their body weight) to help them work their muscles and engage their mind in focused exercises that help them with body awareness. These breaks can help kids center themselves and build better focus when they go back to their desks and are expected to sit still and do classwork.
My students visit the sensory room for 15 minute breaks during the day between their lessons to help them release some energy so they can re-focus and go back to class ready to learn.
When I take them, we discuss the relationship between our bodies, our brains, and our emotions. They check in about how their body is feeling (tired, annoyed, excited, etc) and we discuss which movement breaks they could choose to help improve their mood and help their brains stay focused when we go back to class. At the end of their sensory time, we sit with our eyes closed, take deep breaths, and check in again about how their body is feeling after their break.
A small kid-friendly climbing wall and floor mat for our school's sensory room would be an amazing opportunity for these kids to engage in some heavy work between their schoolwork. It would be a great addition to their sensory activity choices.
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