It’s back to school time and that means looking for great supplies that will not only serve your student’s academic needs but their unique special needs and sensory needs as well. From clothes that are sensory smart to fidgets and chewies to help with attention, keeping your child’s needs in mind can make the difference between your child surviving and thriving at school. If you are a teacher, then having a stash of sensory savvy items at your fingertips can be a real lifesaver. If you are a parent shopping, you may want to purchase some of these items for home and some for the classroom. Your teacher will love you for it! Let’s take a look at some special school supplies that will help provide for everyone’s unique needs.
Sensory Filter Pouch
Nearly every back to school list includes either a pencil pouch or a pencil box. Let’s take it to the next level and in addition to your glue sticks, pencils, pens and erasers, be sure to include pencil grips, a fidget and a chewy to help your kids focus and concentrate. You can put these small items right into your student’s pencil pouch. You can discuss with your child’s teacher and your child as to when and how to appropriately use the special items in their pencil pouch. You can also create a separate pouch just for sensory items and use during sensory breaks.
Can your child benefit from a weighted vest or weighted lap pad? Using weight while working at their desk, working on the floor or even during group circle times, can help your child to remain calm and focused. Weighted vests can come in different styles to meet your child’s needs and both vests and lap pads can be used as needed. Whereas a vest may be used by certain children, a lap pad can be used and shared within the same class. Be sure to check with your child’s OT or PT especially when using a weighted vest to ensure optimal wear time and weight calibration.
Does your child have a need to stand due to physical needs or sensory needs? Checking in with your school to be sure there is a standing desk before school starts can help you and your teacher plan for the year. Or if your child is in need of a mobile device or space for their wheelchair, checking in to be sure there is enough room to maneuver can make the transition to school that much smoother.
Dress for School Success
Be sure your child’s clothing is pre-washed before the first day of school and is sensory smart: soft, no tags, breathable and easy to move in. Compression clothing is great for an all day hug. You can choose under garments or a compression vest right on top of a uniform or school clothes. Keep in mind that feet need to be comfortable all day too, so choosing socks that are sensory smart is a great idea.
Timers, desk carrels and earmuffs can be used at home and at school during the school year to encourage focus, attention and time management. In addition, earmuffs can be used in noisy lunchrooms for children with auditory sensitivities. Also, be sure your child has a great desk organizer as well as a calendar where they can view their assignments and stay on task. These items are crucial for all students but can be imperative for sensory needy individuals and those with different learning styles.
Things That Move
Using a cushion or ball chair can also help students to sit and focus. Both cushions and ball chairs encourage movement along with encouragement seating. You can select cushions with gel, foam or air depending on your student’s preferences and ball chairs should be sized so that hips and knees are at a right angle when in use. This will provide an active learning position.
Most importantly keep in mind that your child’s well-being is most important and addressing their unique needs as they head back to school can help with ensuring that everyone has a great back to school experience.