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Sensory area created at SLES

Pictured is fourth-grader, Serenity Smith, showcasing the space which is available to grades PreK-6. (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE — Students at Southern Local Elementary School now have a place of tranquility to help them concentrate in the classroom.

Fourth-grade intervention specialist Jessica Coleman established a sensory area and calm down corner last year and is expanding the site with funding from a $600 Best Practice Grant through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. Coleman said the site is open to all elementary students and offers room for some respite when dealing with emotions, behaviors and regulation. The goal is to help them return to class so they can complete their studies without further distraction.

“I began at the end of the [school] year and worked on it through the summer,” she said. “I felt like we had kids with some behavioral issues and they needed somewhere to calm down so they could return to class.”

A section of the resource room has been designated as a calm-down corner and features soft lighting, pillows, a “choices” wall with techniques to help relax them, as well as fidget items, stress balls, books, coloring pages, Play Doh, puzzles and more. The JCESC mini-grant has helped her procure a weighted blanket and soothing LED projection light, plus she plans to add bean bag chairs and sensory pads to make the corner more comfortable. Coleman also has a portable “Chill Zone” to use in the classroom and said either space could be used for preschoolers to sixth-grade students.

She said calm down areas can also be used for students who need scheduled breaks, social or emotional specifically designed instruction or who benefit from check-ins throughout the day.

“It has been used and the kids love it,” Coleman said.

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