The Science Behind Sensory Tents For Children
One of the first great changes we made at instructables was the introduction of a cool down area or quiet down corner, and for the most part it worked perfectly for struggling students who just needed a few minutes to gather their thoughts. Often times struggling students who have difficulty with mental regulation or need frequent breaks away from the classroom miss out on class, even if their behavior is not problematic. I know one teacher who literally had to step outside of the class room to get her student to stop talking in class! Sometimes the simplest solution can be the most effective, and with this solution, we at instructables didn’t have to compromise on any of our principles. The quiet area is still used today, but with some creative signage and the addition of a bench, the area is an even more peaceful place to work. Below are some other great ways that we used to encourage students to use the cool down area and relax during the day.
First we had two large posters that showed a picture of a serene ocean with boats sailing by on the calm blue ocean. On the posters were the words “Talk! Relax! “, which gave the students a prime opportunity to get in touch with their bodies and relax. This may sound simplistic, but sometimes simple solutions like reminding students to calm down is the most difficult task to accomplish at school, and this was a fantastic way to go about reminding students to calm down.
Another great signage strategy was to place a large picture in the classroom window that showed a calm sea with boats sailing by. Again, the words “Talk! Relax! “, as well as an image of a calm serene scene may prove to be quite calming for many students. This signage was visible not only in the classroom but was also posted outside of the classroom as well.
The third strategy that helped us create a cool zone in the classroom involved frequent breaks. We found that having a teacher spend approximately five to ten minutes talking to each child in turn helped them to calm down and really get to know each other. By creating short breaks throughout the day, students were more likely to spend time relaxing and doing fun activities rather than staying in the classroom. These frequent breaks enabled us to rotate the cool down spot around the classroom so that it was not permanent, but was removable if needed.
Another great way to create a cool zone in the classroom is to have a corner of the room designated as a quiet, safe space. It does not need to be far from the regular snack area, but it should be someplace where the child feels comfortable. Once again, the words “Talk! Relax!”
In addition to having a corner of the classroom designated as a calm area, we also found that by controlling where children walked around the room, controlled their sensory input, and having a constant supply of verbal cues, we could make their sensory responses calmer and their hearts would relax. For example, by walking the floor over with our eyes closed, we could calm the child’s heart rate. Then, if they were to move and breathe, if the eyes were open, we could redirect the child’s breath to the stomach. This strategy has proven effective for calming a child down in the classroom when our hands are full and we need to get something done.
Finally, once your child is in a calmer state of mind, we want to set one of your own so that they can cool down. For this, you will need a few items. A squirt bottle full of water, a pinterest craft, and a pinterest pinata. You will want to set up the area so that the child can set one of their toys on the water’s edge and the craft is resting on the pinterest craft with the pinterest pinata resting under it. This will allow the child to distract their thoughts from their negative sensory input by placing the cool treat in the center of the cool zone.
These strategies have been proven effective in helping our children to calm themselves down. While these techniques do not help to relax them completely, they do allow them to feel better and be less anxious throughout the day. If you or someone you know are looking for a way to help your child calm down, try one or more of these strategies. Our site has information about sensory tents and calming music, as well as other products that can help your child calm down.