St. Andrews International School Bangkok has recently installed a sensory room where our children are free to explore and develop their senses and skills, or simply relax and unwind for a while. Specially designed by Mike Ayres Design - The Company, this new school area has many different features, including:
- A solar projector that uses effect wheels: various sensory images are projected onto the walls and ceiling, creating a mesmerizing, calming effect;
- A fibre optic sensory lighting kit: made of polymer strands encased in plastic sleeves, the strands change colour as they light up. These sparkly strands of light have a multitude of applications and can be used both for relaxation and tactile and visual stimulation. They are very durable and perfect for engaging and initiating play;
- Bubble tube: as bubbles gurgle to the top, the tube scrolls through hundreds shades of light helping set a quiet and restful tone in the room. The tube is equipped with a ‘colour stop’ mode that can be used for storytelling, casting blue light when you are at sea or white light when it is snowing. They are bright and crisp and invaluable in helping with exploration and development.
What is a Sensory Room?
A sensory room is a special room designed and equipped to stimulate the senses of hearing, sight, touch and smell. It is a place where children can explore and develop their sensory skills, but also where they can relax and relieve stress and anxiety.
In many countries around the world sensory rooms are used by people of all ages and all abilities for relaxation, focused work, stimulation, control, massage, aromatherapy, reminiscence work, physiotherapy, communication and stress release.
What are the Benefits of a Sensory Room?
Early childhood educators like to emphasise that “young children learn with all their senses.”
We know that young children are oriented toward sensory experiences. From birth, children have learned about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing. This is why children will dive in hands first when exploring a new substance. The senses are their most familiar, most basic way to explore, process and come to understand new information.
This is why we must allow young children to learn through experience. These children need to use their senses and engage in meaningful experiences. As we talk with them about what they are observing and sensing, we give them new language tools to connect with these familiar sensory tools, building language as well as supporting cognitive concepts specific to the experience.
While children learn through their senses, they also are developing the ability to use those senses and are building the neurological pathways associated with each one. With added sensory experiences, combined with the scaffolding of adults and peers, children become more perceptive. Their sensory intake and processing becomes more acute. As they are better able to use their senses, they are then better able to learn through their senses. They are using their senses to collect data and from that, attempting to answer their own questions.
Sensory rooms offer huge benefits to a wide range of users regardless of their age or ability, and can engage children and help them learn through play. From following bright lights and patterns with their eyes, to pressing buttons that make the room change colour, the multi-sensory experience teaches children to be interested in their environment. The flexible functionality of the sensory room means it can also be used to calm and de-stress.
We are looking forward to familiarising ourselves with all that our new room has to offer and sharing its positive impact with the children as we move through the academic year.