“What is it? It looks like a colorful play course!” inquired the after-school staff.
I replied, “It is a sensory regulation course, and it is used to help students use it as a tool to regulate big emotions. “Wow, we need that, “ he said, “We have some kids with big emotions after school.” “Then this is the place to let off steam and walk out the wiggles while teaching about regulation too.”
To be fair, it is normal for students to have big emotions throughout the school day. Many of our students start the school year feeling excited, but students also feel anxious, worried, nervous, and fearful. So teaching students about regulation, which means knowing when our bodies are in a calm state, and dysregulation, when our bodies feel out of control or uncomfortable, is an important concept. Sensory-regulation courses allow students to move, jump and practice calming breathing techniques to help them regulate their bodies and minds. A two- to four-minute break on the course can help a student return to the classroom calmer, focused, and ready to learn. This tool, paired with learning about feelings and learning tools to help calm ourselves in challenging moments, can help students manage themselves while in school.
This summer, the LumenSparQ board and a group of amazing parents and students worked on painting a three-part regulation course on the 156th Street Elementary School campus. The idea is not new and has been catching on in many districts. When all students are allowed to practice regulation as they motor through, jump, pause, and breath on a course, it can support them in moments of big emotions or the need for a break.
When students return to school, I would love to say they just come with new backpacks, hopes for a good year, and excitement. The reality is many of our students bring an array of challenges and emotions, which range from anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, and fear. These challenges have been exacerbated by the economic or physical losses due to Covid. Our fantastic teachers are challenged to create a safe environment for all students, offer support and help students navigate challenges so they can learn. Having additional tools can support our students and help us breathe more easily.
Below are additional resources to learn more about Sensory Regulation Courses:
Sensory Regulation Courses (also called Sensory Pathways)
- Bramlett teacher’s sensory path gaining international attention
- Here’s Why More Schools Should Explore Sensory Pathways
- The Impact of Sensory-Based Movement Activities on Students in General Education
- A Hop, Skip, and Jump – Creating Your Own Sensory Pathways
- Explore the sensory, learning skills and developmental benefits of Sensory Corridors
- Setting up a School Sensory Path
- Youtube Playlist – Various school site examples
Zones of Regulation: