Jane’s first-grade teacher calls to say that Jane’s behavior problems are escalating and she needs to discuss them with you.
Escalating? You did not know there were issues, to begin with, you say. Now, you know Jane has issues at home, but you feel blind sighted that the teacher waited until she was overwhelmed to talk to you.
Teachers do their best to handle things themselves, but knowing more information early on can prevent many problems down the line.
I know because I have been there. Our first year of attending classes showed me just how much I need to help educate those that help guide my children's learning. It is not about micromanaging, but it's more like getting to know one another better.
Helping your child's teacher understand your child’s sensory profile before they begin the year will allow the teacher to ask for help and guidance and ultimately this can be beneficial for her entire classroom.
It may be more likely that the school is not an ecological fit for your child, and you will need to make some adjustments.
Your child’s environment may consist of home, daycare, or preschool, and various other places. It contains extended family members, community members, and teachers. The match between what these places and people can provide to meet the needs of your child is known as ecological fit. Just as flowers need to the right ecosystem and conditions to bloom, so do humans.
A match can mean the differences between a year of growth and a year of regression.
Fortunately, we live in a time where educational options for your child are limitless, but we need to know their requirements to be able to search out the right fit.
First, begin with your child’s individual sensory profile to find schools, learning guides, and environments that might be the right fit. You also will be better equipped as a parent because you understand and can help guide your child through their challenges. Teaching philosophy does not matter as much as the people guiding the learning.
It might be as simple as asking how much outdoor time is woven into the day, or how much freedom will my child have in how they explore the learning environment.
Democratic and Montessori schools can be excellent for children with sensory modulations issues because they lack the requirement to do a certain activity at a certain time. The key is whether or not the school is willing to help your child by providing a safe, flexible, nurturing environment while he or she navigates their development.
Waldorf schools can be a beautiful fit too, but your child has to be at a place in their development where they can regulate their responses in this type of environment. Waldorf schools that have a Curative Education specialist are ideal. To be successful in any learning environment, they need to understand how to calm and regulate their sensory selves or have a teacher that nurtures that process.
For example, if you have a child who seeks vestibular or movement-based input and cannot get enough spinning, swinging, sliding, and rolling. A classroom with a corner swing, spooner boards, or a balance beam that they have free reign to use when needed is essential.
A classroom that is connected to the outdoors, by providing many intervals of outdoor play is ideal. An outdoor play space and garden can produce the effects of a sensory gym.
The outdoor play provides natural sensory input that allows your child to focus on playing, which is a vital learning process.
Regular shifts in instruction in a traditional classroom that transitions between movement based learning and seat work are best for every child, but for a child seeking vestibular input, it can make the difference between growth or frustration, meltdowns, or outbursts.
So where do you begin? Start with a parent-based sensory profile assessment. If you are new to the world of sensory systems, I suggest purchasing The Learning Tree by Stanley Greenspan, MD. It will help you understand how the senses show up in your child.
You can help your child that is experiencing sensory challenges overcome them. Just start with understanding what they are, and you will begin to connect to the world with your child.