PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Most schools in Bay District Schools have experts specializing in behavioral health.
Keeping a student focused and calm can be a daily challenge for teachers. But not everyone has the knowledge to pinpoint what the problem is. Sometimes it’s a sensory issue.
“We have a lot of tools at our disposal,” Kathryn Hudson, school interventionist said. “I try to match with the senses that the child is struggling with. So we have tactile things that children can hold for touch we have scented play-doh that covers touch and smell. And we have visual timers for things that they can look at.”
Dr. Jenna Jordan with Hiland Park Elementary School said each student is different. Sometimes it’s the sound, mouth, or hands.
She will work with the child until they find which sensory item is right. Jordan said students are subconsciously occupied which allows them to be focused on the teacher. She said helping students focus begins in the classroom.
“The teacher will come and tell me what they’re struggling with,” Hudson said. “Sometimes if we can’t figure it out, I’ll go sit in the classroom and watch for a little bit and say, ok, it’s a pencil issue or it’s a chair issue, or whatever it is. So it is a team effort and a lot of trial and error.”
When everyone is flexible with the student a successful environment is created.
There is a variety of sensory items teachers can get, but buying them may be a barrier.
District officials said some of their funding for the items comes from Bay Education Foundation Grants.
Others come from the ALDI Grant and Home Depot grant. Hudson said new teachers should look out for them and apply as soon as possible.
School officials said keeping students in the classroom is Hiland Park Elementary’s main goal.