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Column: Prairie Elementary opens new Boost Up rooms

Our Boost Up room is a space dedicated to helping students regulate their behavior.

Stock image of water beads by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash.
Stock image of water beads by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash.
Mieke Campbell / Unsplash
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Prairie Elementary School has had many changes since saying goodbye to our third- and fourth-graders and becoming a primary elementary building. We have additional space that we didn’t have before.

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One of our exciting new additions include two Boost Up rooms to help support our students’ sensory needs.

You might be asking yourself "What is a Boost Up room?" Our Boost Up room is a space dedicated to helping students regulate their behavior. With rising anxiety and depression rates, coupled with children at this age struggling to control big feelings like anger, disappointment and sadness, we have developed a place to learn how to regulate these emotions.

This space can be used proactively with students who display excess energy at a certain time in the day. It can also be used to assist in calming students who are experiencing agitation. The main objective of the room is to get students back to a state where they are ready to learn.

The Boost Up Room is meant to be available to all students when they need it. Individual students or small groups can visit the room with their teacher or paraprofessional. The rooms allow for a variety of sensory experiences to be individually tailored to meet the specific needs of the students using these spaces. As we know, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.

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Children who have autism and other sensory processing needs often can calm down when overstimulated with deep pressure. Tactile input of this nature often leaves students calm, relaxed and focused. Students with high activity level or issues with focusing may need to head to the Boost Up room to release some energy. Equipment can be found to encourage movement, creating an energy release for these learners.

The Boost Up rooms house equipment and activity centers designed for student use. Swings, jumping pads, student-sized elliptical equipment, sensory rollers, and tools used for balance and pressure can all be found in the rooms. Some of the equipment available to our students is described below.

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  • Squeezie seat: This comfy chair gently squeezes, applying soothing pressure and sensory input throughout the whole body.  
  • Crawl and climb: Made entirely out of lycra, students get to crawl or push through to support sensory integration.
  • Cocoon climbing swing:  This provides all-over body support and pressure all over their body 
  • Taco swing: This uses students’ own body weight to provide soothing pressure from shoulders to ankles.

A portion of these rooms can be used for a student who is having a meltdown due to frustration, anger or a loss of self-control. Some of the benefits of the rooms can include reducing overstimulation, providing a safe space with tools for students to self-regulate during periods of anger and stress, and providing a safe crisis and de-escalation area.
The procedure for this space includes 1) Setting the timer; 2) Choosing a strategy; 3) Cleaning up; 4) Going back to my work.

Some of the activities and strategies available in the room include drawing, journaling, sensory jars, therapy sand, putty, Play-Doh, puzzles, Orbeez beads, blocks, gel-bead shapes, textured balls and handheld games. In addition to the strategies listed, there are calming areas in both, complete with a canopy and soft beanbag chair to help students relax and take a break privately. As soon as students start to relax, they can flip through feelings books which are perfect for helping them to recognize and learn strategies for handling big emotions.

Here at Prairie, we try to meet the needs of the whole student, and this is a great addition to do just that! We are loving these new spaces and are grateful for the opportunity to equip these important additions to help support student success.

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