In simple terms, sensory processing is what we call the process which determines our interpretation of events, experiences and how we feel about things. Our body has various receptors which respond to different senses – for example, our taste buds which allow us to distinguish flavors, or light receptors in our eyes to interpret colors. In addition to the traditional senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, sensory processes also relates to the processing of movement, body position and internal sensations.
Differences in our sensory perceptions are part of being human, we are all individuals, and in the most part these variances have no impact on our lives. In some cases, however, the way we process sensory information can affect how we behave, and accordingly our reactions and performance in certain situations.
Hypersensitivity is where an individual is either over responsive or under responsive to a certain stimulus. For example, a child who experiences auditory over responsiveness will notice every distinct sound, and variations in them, making it extremely difficult to focus on the required sounds. Conversely, if a child is under responsive to audio stimuli, they may struggle to identify individual sounds – such as their name being called. In both cases this could lead to disruption; the child seeming ignorant or creating their own ‘white noise’ in order to drawn out the many competing noises.
Sensory processing difficulties can present in many ways, as an individual issue or alongside a range of other disorders including learning difficulties, people on the autistic spectrum, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and others. The manifestation of these issues can have a detrimental effect on a child’s ability to play, learn and communicate with others.
When assessing the likelihood of your child having a sensory processing difficulty, it is important to remember that many of these behaviors may show simply due to the stage of development your child has reached and should be considered relative to their age.
Here are some first signs to look for in your child. Becoming agitated when:
– wearing certain clothing
– when in bright light
– touching certain materials.
The response will be unique to each child, but typically affect focus, socialization, eating preferences, gross and fine motor skills and activity levels.
In some instances, the child will learn to manage these variances themselves to find a comfortable place with your support, other times it can be helpful for the child and family as whole to seek the assistance of a professional.
Parents should ensure they approach potential behaviors which could be an indication of a sensory difficult with tact and patience. Much of the world can be an inhospitable place for those who experience it in different ways, and it is important the child understands they are not at fault. Therapy can be crucial in helping families to understand and support a child with sensory difficulties and ensure they can reach their full potential.
Designing next-generation learning spaces requires a bit of planning. This is because there are many factors to take into consideration before creating the best learning environment. Students who spend time in these spaces are dynamic, active, and insightful. It’s important to provide furniture and tools that provide multiple functions and uses to all who engage with the environment.
Here are 8 important things to consider when choosing furniture for next-generation learning spaces.
Higher education classrooms are often filled with furniture that can be easily moved. This is important when setting up a workspace for students who are engaging in hands-on learning. Mobile furniture allows students to participate in many different activities.
Invest in furniture that provides ample storage space and secure locations where students can keep their personal items. Drawers or lockers might be something to consider.
Classrooms are sometimes set up as workstations, or zones where groups of students come together to work on a project. You might need to set up several stations within this learning environment. What kind of furniture would work best for that?
Ergonomics is the study of the efficiency and comfort of students in the classroom. Sitting in a bad-quality classroom chair all day can lead to back problems and other medical issues. A well-made office chair can keep the back supported so you don’t suffer from any physical pain. Make sure the furniture you choose for the classroom is ergonomically correct.
5. Height Diversity
Students should be able to access tools and resources at multiple levels, as well as choose pieces of furniture that they feel most comfortable in. Mix up the type of furniture, seating, materials, and height levels so students have the freedom to pick whatever will help them learn better.
6. Flat Writing Surfaces
Students will always need a flat surface to write on. Desks with whiteboards are even more helpful as they are a direct surface that can be written on. Make sure there are always available tools for students to write on and with.
Students of all ages react to colors differently. Studies show that a display of different colors can stimulate different parts of the brain, encouraging learning. Find a balance of bright and neutral colors to make it a pleasant learning environment.
The fabrics and textures you choose can have a huge impact on students. People are stimulated by touch as much as they are by sight, so it’s important to incorporate different textures that can help everyone feel comfortable. You also want to consider things that don’t easily tear or stain.
When it’s time to refresh the look of your classroom, you don’t have to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. In fact, a few adjustments here and there are enough to change the entire look of the room.
It’s amazing how much you can make with just a little. You don’t have to break the bank or hire a style consultant to have a big impact in the classroom. Here are 5 small changes that Australian teachers are making in schools all across the nation!
1. Add Natural Light
Classrooms that are too dark might make students feel sad or sleepy. It is easier for them to focus when they can also appreciate the brightness of the day. Natural light adds energy to the brain and feels more inviting to students each morning. Make sure your classroom has some good window space!
2. Change the Direction Students are Facing
Most classrooms are set up the exact same way: with a group of chairs facing a whiteboard. Maybe it’s time to change this up. By rearranging the way the desks are laid out, you can actually increase your students’ focus and make learning more interactive for them.
3. Clean and Declutter
There is such a thing as too much furniture, and your classroom space might be too cramped for comfort. It might be time to look at what things can be removed. Are there pieces of furniture that are just in the way and don’t really help you out? A spare filing cabinet or some empty desks, perhaps? Your students will love all the extra space!
4. Add a Homely Feel
The most successful classrooms are those that students want to come back to. Instead of making the classroom a dreary space, you can add some elements to make it feel like home. For example, you can come up with a class mascot together or invest in a classroom pet. Little rituals and fun games can help bring students together and make the classroom a more cheerful place for them.
5. Give Students an Opportunity for Independence
You are the teacher, but you don’t have to be the only source for knowledge and learning in the classroom. Teach kids how to search for knowledge on their own. Establish clusters of desks with independent learning stations so kids can find answers to their own questions. This will foster good energy and provide a better learning environment.
Make these small changes to your classroom and both you and your students will see immense results. Bring out the joy in your children and design a great learning space for success!