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How to Make a Back-to-School Sensory Kit

school sensory kit

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As summer ends, the worry about the new school year begins. How will my kiddo adjust to their new classmates? New teacher? New workload? As many of us know all too well, adjusting to a new routine and schedule is no small task.

We can make the back-to-school transition just a bit easier by planning ahead with a sensory kit that your kiddo can turn to throughout the day.

Why a Sensory Kit?

When our kiddos are nervous about a new routine or experience, they’re more likely to be ready for “fight or flight” mode than “rest and digest.” In “fight or flight” mode, our kiddos aren’t able to focus and learn. They’re in a survival state, waiting for the next threat to strike.

We can use sensory techniques to tell the body that it’s safe to leave “fight or flight” mode and enter “rest and digest.” Once we can get the pathways between the sensory system and the brain working properly, it will be easier for kiddos to regulate and calm their bodies.

Here are some items to put in your child’s back-to school sensory kit that will help foster that “rest or digest” state.

A Compression or Weighted Item

Compression and weight are sensory triggers that tell the body that it’s safe to relax. With a kiddo who is prone to constant “fight or flight,” Using compression clothing or weighted items can help their bodies become accustomed to being in a “rest and digest” state more often.

The great news is that there are a number of options for compressive and weighted items that can be used in the classroom.

If your child can tolerate it, a compression shirt or weighted vest can be worn throughout the day. Otherwise, there are some discreet weighted lap pads and stuffed animals that kiddos can keep with them throughout the day.

A Favorite Fidget

It can be really hard to sit still and pay attention when our kiddos are nervous. Sometimes, this nervous energy can be soothed through simple fidgeting.

Have you ever noticed that you tap your foot when waiting to give a speech? Or that you start pacing when waiting for an important phone call?

When we’re overwhelmed or nervous, we soothe ourselves through movement.

Not only does it give our brains a place to channel the nervous energy, it provides sensory input that can help us move closer to a “rest and digest” state.

There are a lot of different types of fidgets on the market. Not all of them will work for your kiddo, nor be ideal for a classroom setting. Be sure to trial a fidget with your kiddo and get their teacher’s approval before introducing a fidget, or any item, into the school-day.

A Comfort Item

Whether it be a favorite stuffed animal, a well-worn jacket, or a family photo, include something in your child’s sensory kit that reminds them of home. It can be really scary to be in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. By keeping a loved and familiar item close-by, your kiddo can add some comfort into what otherwise may be an uncomfortable situation.

The sensory system is an important connection between the brain and the body that determines whether we’re in a nervous “fight or flight” state or a relaxed “rest or digest” state. When helping our kiddos transition into a new and scary routine, it’s helpful to have sensory resources on hand to promote that “rest and digest” state that’s ideal for learning and focus.

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