Overcoming Classroom Sensory Behaviors after Covid-19
As schools across the country are making plans to safely bring their student’s back to the classroom in the fall, teachers are probably worried about how they’re going to handle a classroom full of students bursting with energy after an extended time home alone.
We can’t blame the kids (or their parents)! Everyone is going to be a little stir crazy once we return to a more normal life. After a long summer with no summer camps, sports, birthday parties, or any of the fun kid stuff, our students are going to be really excited to be back around their friends. They might be less excited to get back to a disciplined school day.
Many schools are also limiting social interactions among students and requiring children to stay in a limited space throughout the day, with no possible breaks for recess or full body movement. s.
These necessary changes are all meant for the protection and health of children, yet sacrifices the sensory needs of some of the most vulernable populations.
What kind of behavior might you see in your students and what does it mean?
- Short Attention Span: It might be difficult to get your students to focus for the usual amount of time when they first come back. Excessive screen time and lack of schedule may require retraining students to focus. Try mixing up the day with different educational activities to keep them engaged and excited to learn. Sensory Paths (TM) are a useful tool to help with movement and brain breaks.
- Higher anxiety: Being in the classroom after a long break may cause many students to feel more anxious. In general, the classroom can feel like a more formal and higher stakes environment than their homes. Help ease some anxiety by letting your students know that they don’t have to be perfect and that it’s okay if they forgot some things.
- Acting out: Some students may get too much attention at home and some students may not get enough attention at home. This may cause students to be unusually disruptive and trying to steal the show. It’s important to give each student the opportunity to feel seen and heard in the classroom. Remind them that they’re an important part of the classroom and provide them the appropriate channels to express themselves so that they don’t feel the need to interject at the wrong time.
- Whining: With over 6 months at home, some students may have regressed a little and be a bit more emotional. They might just be really overwhelmed with getting back into a routine and don’t know how to express it clearly. Give your students the space and resources to express how they’re feeling.
Returning to the classroom after Covid-19 will be extremely difficult for the students, teachers, parents, and administrators. It’s important to remember that we are all in this together. The students rely on us to provide a safe and welcoming environment so that they can learn and grow. Providing them a safe space to help with self-regulation is a vital addition to your building. Sensory Paths are designed for studetns to develop self-regulation skills.