Starting school is an exciting time for any child, but it can be particularly overwhelming for sensory seekers. Sensory seekers are individuals who actively seek sensory input to regulate their nervous system. They may crave movement, touch, or visual stimuli, which can make the school environment challenging. As a parent or caregiver, understanding your sensory seeker’s needs and providing appropriate support can greatly ease their transition into school life. In this blog, we will explore some helpful strategies to ensure a successful start to school for your sensory seeker.
1. Communicate with the school
Before the school year begins, establish open communication with your child’s teacher and school staff. Inform them about your child’s sensory seeking tendencies and any specific sensory preferences they might have. This will help the school staff create an inclusive environment tailored to your child’s needs.
2. Create a sensory-friendly routine
A predictable routine can provide a sense of security for sensory seekers. Work with your child to establish a morning and after-school routine that incorporates sensory activities they enjoy, such as jumping on a trampoline, swinging, or playing with textured toys. These activities can help them regulate their sensory input and prepare for the school day. Need help coming up with your own sensory routine? Check out Sensory Sid’s Activity Cards, a great way to give choices for sensory activities before or after school.
3. Introduce the school environment gradually
For some sensory seekers, new environments can be overwhelming. Visit the school with your child before the academic year starts, allowing them to explore the classrooms, hallways, and playground. Gradual exposure can reduce anxiety and increase familiarity with the surroundings.
4. Sensory tools and strategies
Provide your child with sensory tools they can use throughout the school day. Items like fidget toys, weighted lap pads, or chewable necklaces can help them stay focused and calm in the classroom. Discuss these tools with the teacher to ensure they are comfortable with their use during class.
5. Advocate for sensory breaks
Ask the school to incorporate sensory breaks into your child’s daily schedule. Sensory breaks allow them to engage in activities that meet their sensory needs, helping them stay regulated and ready to learn. These breaks can be as simple as a few minutes of jumping or using a squeeze ball.
6. Encourage social interaction
Sensory seekers may have difficulty with social skills, so providing opportunities for social interaction can be beneficial. Arrange playdates with classmates or participate in extracurricular activities where your child can practice socializing in a controlled environment.
7. Develop coping strategies
Teach your child coping strategies to handle overwhelming sensory experiences independently. Breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, or focusing on a preferred sensory activity can help them self-regulate during challenging situations. Need some ideas? Try these great coping strategies for kids.
8. Celebrate small wins
Starting school can be challenging, but remember to celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small. Praise their efforts and progress, which will boost their confidence and motivate them to overcome obstacles.
Starting school for sensory seekers requires patience, understanding, and collaboration with the school community. By incorporating sensory-friendly strategies and providing the necessary tools, you can help your child thrive academically and emotionally. With time and effort, your sensory seeker will develop the skills to navigate the school environment confidently and embrace their unique sensory strengths.