Standardization tests started this month…………and some students are stressing about it! The anticipation coming up to the assessments make some students nervous. Is it the change in routine? workload of the tests? etc. One thing is for sure is that you usually come across a handful of students who fret about it.
Therefore, the OT room was designated “lights out” for one week, with calm lighting, soft music, and calm/relaxation activities to use to help with self calming. There were several choices: cocoon swing with light up pillow; tent with soft pillows, massagers, lotion and a light that changes color with a remote control; a light table with moving lights and lava lamp; a rocking chair with foot massager; hand massage station; a cuddle corner with bean bags and pillows; and a ball pit to lie in/get squished.
Students were shown the activity stations and the benefits were discussed. A few days later, a group of students returned asking to use the OT room to relax after taking the tests. Their teacher had allowed them to revisit the OT room to de-stress. They each picked a station, spent 10 minutes visiting and returned to class. It was so happy for them, because they initiated this with the teacher AND she accepted. They visited and picked which stations they preferred based on being exposed to it earlier in the week. And after about 10 minutes they returned to class.
As an occupational therapist in the school system, I am lucky to have a teacher who is willing to address self/calming and working on getting the right fit for attention/focus. She also did her own continuing education and has instituted therapy balls in the classroom for attention/focus, as well as a morning walk, and stretches/movement activities throughout the day. Thanks Marti!
De-stressing/self-calming/mindfulness is also great for staff! We are considering using an empty classroom to provide such equipment for staff as well:) It’s in the makings………….more details to follow.
Speaking of mindfulness……….that will be my post for next month!
Mary L. Adolf, M.S., OTR/L