Sensory room a safe space for Yacolt Primary students

April 28, 2022

What was once a storage space between two classrooms at Yacolt Primary School is now filled with soft blue lighting, a sound machine set to ocean waves, a swing, and other tools meant to soothe and calm. Students who are experiencing sensory or behavioral challenges are invited to the room to take advantage of a few minutes of quiet and peace in order to regain focus before they return to the classroom and continue learning in a safe and productive way.

sensory roomNadia Noid, an occupational therapist in the district, says she got the idea for the sensory room from peers in other districts who found them to be beneficial for students with sensory or behavioral challenges. Yacolt Principal Lynnell Murray quickly embraced the plan and helped to find a space that would work. 

Yacolt Primary’s sensory room provides students with disabilities experiencing sensory or behavioral challenges the opportunity to self-regulate and manage their emotions before returning to the classroom environment. “We try to get them all the help they need within the classroom, but sometimes they just need a place where they can reset and refocus,” Noid said.

Trained adults help students through a schedule of various “zones.” These can include the use of a tent, a swing, yoga mats, or other tools.  “We track which students are using the room, what tools they’re using, and how it’s helping them regulate their day,” Noid said. “The last station helps them to regroup, do some breathing, do a yoga pose, and then we’re ready to get back out there.”

Students who are on the sensory room break schedule have expressed excitement about being able to visit the space. Noid said many of them have shown better self regulation within the classroom as well. Teachers have said that students are better at transitioning back to purposeful activities successfully following their break. 

The goal for Yacolt is to increase access to more students in the coming weeks.

Battle Ground Public Schools takes a multi-faceted approach to providing a safe and caring environment that benefits the social-emotional learning of all students. Beginning with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or the teaching of behavior expectations in schools, students learn what behaviors are expected during the day, just as they learn math and reading. Positive behaviors are reinforced with acknowledgements, and students and schools can earn things such as an extra recess or a school dress up day. Students who do not demonstrate expected behaviors receive support in the way of tiered interventions.

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