Students in Beaver Dam Elementary Schools will now have the opportunity to use sensory paths after they were added recently to the schools.
Sensory pathways allow students to go through a series of movements in order such as jumping, hopping or sliding and are guided by markings on the floor. The sensory input is meant to allow the students to be more focused when they return to class.
Summer school began this week in Beaver Dam allowing the first group of students to take active breaks to regulate themselves back into learning.
“Our students use this on a regular basis,” Lincoln Elementary School Principal Crystal Bates said. “Some our staff are modeling it as well, because it is so important to co-regulate as well. To be able to have our adults to utilize this movement as well is a great routine for the classes, but we will constantly see classes as they come up and down the hallway to do it as a class or individual students or groups of students both upstairs and downstairs.”
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Linda Trenton, an elementary support teacher in the district, brought the idea to Beaver Dam after seeing the benefit that sensory paths had at the school she had previously worked at. Trenton said that when she came to Beaver Dam and saw there were no sensory paths, she was able to apply for the endowment grant in order to get the paths put in the buildings.
Trenton said she consulted with the occupational therapists in the districts to make sure the paths would have a mix of movements and sensory input for all the students who would be using them.
“All our elementary schools have a Pete the Cat sensory path for the younger kids and they all have freeform path for the older kids, but really any of the kids can use any of the paths that are in the building,” Trenton said. “That is why they were created — to create a way for students to have a way to get out their movement needs, so they are able to regulate, and then be ready to learn.”
The teachers received information about sensory paths and the reason for them, Trenton said.
“Ultimately it is to get kids moving, to increase blood flow to their brains, and all those things that are good for keeping us alert and ready to learn,” Trenton said. “What I have seen is that if kids are kind of not in the zone of ready to learn that they can ask to use the sensory path or the teachers might recognize that in the student.”
When the students come back to class, they are in a better space to learn, Trenton said.
Each elementary will have the two paths by this fall, Trenton said. The previous year they had at least one installed. Many of the materials for the paths are made of tape and decals so they can be replaced easily if the paths must be removed for maintenance.
Student Haeven Ackerman said that there are additional benefits for younger students as well.
"If they never played hopscotch before, it will help them learn hopscotch, and they can also improve their jumping skills if they are doing jumping in gym," Ackerman said.
Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.