One Saturday morning in February, with the music of Queen and coffee to fuel them, five NPS pre-primary teachers set out to install the school's first sensory hallway. Running the length of the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten hall, the colorful path invites students to hop, jump, touch the ground, do wall push-ups, twirl, stomp, and more as they navigate from start to finish. Watch below as a Kindergartner demonstrates (and a friend joins in)!
Why Add a Sensory Hallway?
As part of her professional development goal for this year, NPS Kindergarten teacher Meg Griffenhagen has been exploring ways to further develop the pre-primary program's repertoire of mindfulness and sensory integration activities. In addition to the newly-installed sensory hallway, these include a “calming corner” with a wide variety of calming tools, songs and singing, movement activities, meditation and mindfulness exercises, and yoga, among others.
The actions in the new sensory hallway help to support and develop the students' vestibular and proprioception senses leading to better sensory integration. Vestibular sense is also known as balance sense – it is how we know where our bodies are in space. Proprioception is how a person can tell what different body parts are doing without looking at them and how much force to exert on an object. These senses are developed during childhood and are critical to academic success. For example, when the body feels balanced and centered, the eyes can more easily track from left to right, which is a skill required for reading.
Different students require different sorts of sensory input at different times – and these do not always line up with scheduled recesses or movement activities. While all Lower Division students participate in and benefit from the new sensory hallway (and it is really fun!), it is especially useful as a reset option for a student who is having trouble regulating her or his body inside of the classroom during focused learning periods. A quick hop, skip, and jump down the path in the hall can satisfy the body's need for input, therefore calming and settling the student and rendering him or her ready to rejoin the group and ready to learn.
The sensory hallway is another wonderful example of how NPS teachers are always looking for ways to nurture and support the whole child as they develop and grow. This appealing activity is not only a good outlet for children who need a movement break, but it also offers a kinesthetic and differentiated way for our youngest students to practice the alphabet and counting!
Laura Primrose, Lower Division Director