Creating sensory intelligent classrooms

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Nicole Kayton

Section: Education, Workspace

Creating-sensory-intelligent-classrooms

Sensory Intelligent Classrooms

Children’s behaviour in a classroom is often described as being overly active with difficulty focusing, like the animated character Tigger, or underactive and not responsive to activities or learning within the classroom, like Eeyore. Then there are children who seem to manage and get along with what they need to, like Winnie the Pooh.  How then does Christopher Robin keep it all together? How do you as a teacher keep the Tigger’s and Eeyore’s in your class focused and available for learning?

Let’s consider the classroom environment. This is often a busy, colourful, noisy hive of activity:

  • Tigger
    For Tigger, this adds bounce to his springs and gets him moving even faster as there is so much to take in and so many activities to participate in. He may jump from one activity to another in an attempt to get as much as he can from the overall experience. Think of this like an experience from the “Minute to Win It” game show. Challenges are often achievable but the limited time allowed for the activities impacts on the ability to be successful at the activity. This may be what is happening to the Tigger’s in your class as they may find it challenging to attend to one activity for long enough. Their attention may be being “pulled away” to experience another activity or participate in another challenge.
  • Eeyore
    For Eeyore, this is overwhelming and may make him withdraw even more. Eeyore’s should be exposed to more sensory experiences to get them going but this should be done slowly to limit sensory overload. Eeyore’s are rarely exposed to or take note of sensory information, therefore they may become overwhelmed easily (think of it like waking up to a circus parade, your brain would be bombarded with information and you would either want to leave really quickly or block out the sensory input to prevent overload).

The solution?
Try to start with what you can control. Create a sensory intelligent environment that provides neutral sensory input through each of the sensory systems.  Consider the following indicators and try to incorporate more calming sensory input for each of the sensory systems in your classroom.

Children today have overloaded schedules, lagging concentration levels and unique learning styles. Teachers are faced with limited resources in coping with the added deadlines and pressure and are often stressed and exhausted.

By: Nicole Kayton