School is a difficult place to be for most highly sensitive children (HSCs). HSCs are easily overloaded and the busyness of a classroom is much too much for many. A HSC needs plenty of down time in the course of a regular school day, preferably more than once. But how?
Here are things that are either tried and tested with my children or offered as support and are certainly worth discussing with your children’s teachers.
1. Use Noise Reducing Headphones
Prevention is better than cure right? Well, noise reducing headphones are a great way to block out some of the noise in a classroom. I see more and more children wearing them to aid concentration on written work in the classroom. Some schools supply them but my eldest has a pair of his own on his desk which he uses.
2. Make a Quiet Relaxing Space
In some classrooms this is an impossible ask, but see if there is a small corner or space that could be used as a relax area that allows a child to face away from the class – a cushion, a few books and headphones is all that is needed to give a HSC a chance to recharge. Maybe five minutes to listen to soothing music with ear phones?
If there is no space in the class maybe another area near the classroom can be identified to give a reprieve from the busy classroom. There is no harm in asking, and your child will certainly not be the only one who could benefit from the space.
The same goes for a working space; when the classroom gets too noisy or children are on the move carrying out different activities, determine if there is a place your HSC can retreat to to work. My son’s group has tables outsides the classroom in the hallway and designated time there for quiet work in the mornings which means it is silent work in theory. In the afternoon the area is used for group work.
3. Use a Study Buddy
I have no idea if this is the universal name for them but you can use wooden screens that go around a child’s desk which reduces visual distractions. It sits on the desk and is easy to remove and put back on when needed. I haven’t seen these used at my son’s current school but they were available at his former school.
4. Play in a Sand Pit or Water Table
For the younger children in school ask teachers to encourage your HSC to use any available sand or water tables when stress or tension is visibly rising. These are great calming tools and in my experience are usually located just outside the classroom so they can get away from the hustle and bustle of the class too.
5. Run Errands for the Teacher
This is a great tool to get a child out of a class in to the quietness of a school hallway. My middle son is asked daily to run an errand for his teacher so that he can get some quiet as he searches for the caretaker, or another teacher, or takes away beakers to the canteen area. It gives him a quick break to recharge.
Over to You: What tools work for your children? Are your schools open to new ideas to help instil calm in children?