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How can inclusive environments enhance children's learning opportunities?

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light up learning in a sensory space

Calming and Wellbeing Spaces 

Reading Time: 2 minutes

For any of us to be ready and able to learn effectively, we need to have the right environment where we feel safe and emotionally secure. At times, the classroom can be an overwhelming place for some children. Having a calming space within the setting provides a safe place to calm, regulate and learn valuable skills such as self-regulation and interaction.  

A fully equipped and immersive sensory room is wonderful, but a separate space is not always possible or needed. Creating an area within your classroom with a range of calming and sensory resources can be just as beneficial and inclusive.  

“Creating a calm corner or space offers children and young people a place in which they can learn how to safely regulate and develop tools and strategies that help them to remain in their window of tolerance. The calm corner needs to be a special place of safety where they can give themselves greater opportunities to be resilient and stay calm and focussed. Developing their self-awareness and with this, greater levels of adaptability, flexibility and independence are the key objectives of such a space”.

Provide a range of tactile, sensory and visual resources that children can use for calming, regulating and self-soothing. Encourage children to be proactive and use the space as one of their toolbox of strategies to help de-escalate when they are starting to feel overwhelmed. For individual children, you could use calming boxes that include relaxing resources and special things from home. 

“Whatever you use and however you create your sensory space, we should always remember that it is the pupil’s needs and experience of the sensory space that counts.”

Early Years practitioners can support children’s individual needs and allow them to feel autonomous by providing spaces for children to access where they can feel secure. A quiet and calm area will support children when they feel that they need to take themselves away from a busy environment. Some children may choose to relax alone, read a book or have a chat with a friend whilst others may use sensory resources to regulate their emotions. Model the different ways children can use the space to ensure everyone sees this as a positive place to visit.

“The key... be creative. You will be astounded at some of the things you can achieve with a sensory space.”

“Sensory spaces are often thought of as being a room inside. Many schools and classrooms have a sensory space, however an outdoor sensory space is less common yet the outdoors itself provides an amazing sensory experience. Having a space outdoors can spark sensory experiences that the child creates themselves by interacting with something or can be a constant sensory experience that is heightened by the natural qualities of the outdoor environment.”

Calming & wellbeing spaces

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Calming and Wellbeing Spaces 

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