What helps you decompress after a long day or a difficult task? Would you like to be alone in a calming space to help you recover? That’s the concept behind Pond’s sensory room.
The idea came from a group of parents of students with special needs. A sensory room is a place where students can go to regroup and refocus. Pond formed a committee to study sensory rooms. They visited other school districts who have sensory rooms so they could see what those looked like and how they were being used. Students were part of the committee. Pond student, Selah, shown in the picture was one of those students.
After the committee completed their research Pond decided to open their own. That was three years ago. Today, 15 to 20 students use the room each day.
“A number of our students have used the sensory room when they needed to regroup. It is a peaceful place,” said Principal Dr. Carlos Diaz-Granados. “All of our students are welcome to use it when needed. It’s a tool for everyone. “
Pond wanted some substantial, effective resources in the sensory room such as a ball pit (for relaxing, not playing), bubble tubes, comfortable seating and special lighting. These are the same types of tools the Pond sensory room committee observed in other districts. Dr. Diaz-Granados and the committee took this information to their PTO and the PTO funded the purchase of the items and incorporated them in the room.
Pond staff members want students to know there’s a resource available to them, if they need it.
“We want students to self-advocate for what they need,” said Diaz-Granados. “It is important for kids to have a break at times. When students return to class they’re much more focused and ready to learn.”
One student who uses the sensory room is fifth-grader Connor Wang. “It’s a calming experience. It helps you focus when you’re back in class. Going to the room helped me one time when I was upset. My favorite thing in the sensory room is the ball pit, but I like everything in there. The lighting is cool. I spend five to ten minutes at a time in there,” said Connor.
“It’s been a wonderful resource, said Diaz-Granados. “Before we had the room we had some separate tools, but having one room that’s dedicated for this purpose has been a tremendous resource. We’ve seen our discipline issues decrease and student confidence increase.”
Pond is the first school in the district to utilize a sensory room. The new Eureka Elementary also has a motor sensory room.