The sensory aspects of the environment are important to consider when setting up your classroom. Sensory processing is something we all do. There are 8 (yes, 8!) sensory systems – check out my sensory series here for a refresher on any of them. While each student and adult is a unique individual that may benefit from specific strategies, there are some universal tips we can think of when setting up the classroom environment that can offer flexibility for a variety of sensory preferences. Today, let’s talk about what it means to setup a sensory friendly classroom as well as some general tips to get you started.
What is a sensory friendly classroom?
You can think of a sensory friendly classroom as a form of universal design, which means that it can be accessed easily by most people. This means that the environment would have some features that work for all sensory profiles. I find that if you aim for a sensory neutral environment, you can add elements for others on top of that. If you think of setting up the environment for a sensory sensitive person who may get easily overwhelmed, you can always add in additional elements for sensory seekers who may need more input. In my opinion, it is always easier to add opportunities for sensory seekers than take away elements of the classroom for those who are more sensitive.
Let’s take a look at some considerations for each sensory system.
- Having a consistent daily routine and a variety of visual supports can promote overall regulation.
- Having a quiet space or calm down center can be beneficial for all.
- Be willing and ready to be flexible and make changes to your classroom setup as needed throughout the year.
- Use light covers over the fluorescent lights.
- Use lamps or natural light.
- Decreased visual clutter in environment.
- Have visual fidgets available for those who seek input.
- Monitor overall noise level in classroom
- Monitor volume of instruction
- Have noise cancelling headphones available for those who need them
- Have headphones available for those who seek auditory input to listen to music
- Provide opportunities for hands-on learning
- Provide alternative options for those who are more sensitive
- Fidgets available for those who seek tactile input
Smell and Taste Considerations
- Consider more neutral scents in the environment, including your own perfume or cologne. Provide options for those who seek, such as scented markers.
- During snack time, have a variety of textures and flavors available.
Setting up a sensory environment that is accessible for all can be a game changer for your classroom. What are some of your favorite tips for setting up a sensory friendly classroom?
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