Students who arrived back to Coquihalla Elementary School on Jan. 3 found their hallways just a little bit more colourful and exciting.
A new interactive sensory pathway was added to the school over the winter break. Funded with a donation by Free Rein Associates Training Ltd., the pathway gives students more opportunities to move in between classes while developing motor skill such as balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness.
“We know that kids need to move and that’s the big thing of this,” says Bruce Becker, the principal of Coquihalla Elementary. “I’ve seen teachers doing more movement exercises within their own classrooms. But now we’re bringing it out to the hallways… it’s just part and parcel sort of where we’re heading this education system and really trying to meet the kids’ needs.”
According to studies done by Harold W. Kohl III, and Heather D. Cook on the physical activity in school, movement helps students to concentrate and learn better. Teachers and children have also reported that learning becomes much easier if students have access to sensory activities at least twice a day.
Hence, the sensory pathway. Posted in two hallways, the path currently sits in front of the younger grades. Stickers and decals direct students on how to move, whether that be through hopping, stepping, or jumping throughout it. It’s main job is to help students self-regulate in between classes or when they’re struggling to maintain focus (with their teacher’s permission, of course).
And according to Becker, so far, the kids are having a blast with the new pathway In fact, Becker says that even the older students spent their first day back trying it out — which is prompting some thought that perhaps the school might need to add additional pathways for their upper grades.
“The kids are hopping and skipping and jumping and just doing all sorts of different things with this pathway,” says Becker. “Today is actually the first day that we’ve had it. So, it’s quite interesting to look at the [students’] reactions. Because it’s really quite colourful, and its super engaging for the kids, some of the kids were using it right away. They just saw it and they’ve been jumping and jumping on them.”