For many years I have been a teacher within the disability sector, working alongside children of all ages who present with distress, anxiety or behaviours of concern.
Growing bodies of evidence show sensory integration issues may be at the root of many of the symptoms children with sensory processing issues and anxiety exhibit. I have experienced first hand how the use of environmental strategies, such as sensory approaches, assist in engaging students with meaningful activities.
Over and over again, it has been my experience that children need to access learning in a variety of different ways. Often they need to be stimulated, channelled and challenged in learning that does not necessitate them sitting down at a classroom desk. Therefore, as educators, it is crucial that there is provision of an accessible environment which fulfils their learning experiences and allows them to reach their full potential.
By using the principles and elements of design, sensory gardens can be established within schools. These gardens are beyond the scope and design of an average garden, and are focused on producing and creating an immersive experience that appeals to one or more of the five senses.
I have worked alongside parents, students, school executive teams and volunteers to design and build such gardens. They are calming and therapeutic spaces providing a soothing and calming environment. Over and over again, I have been amazed at the stimulation of students’ sensory progressing needs and the subsequent development and progress in learning. Children quickly form positive associations with the gardens and just getting students to talk about what they are experiencing, helps with the learning. They are able to receive a sensory experience grounded in physical or mental stimulation that would otherwise be lost to them.
About the author:
Margaret is a passionate educator of children with exceptionalities.
During her career, she has taught hundreds of students and overseen special needs programs at a number of schools.
Learn more about Margaret on her website.