Sensory circuits are a great way both to energise and settle children. Particularly when they need to focus or engage in learning. The aim of a sensory circuit is to focus concentration in readiness for the day’s learning. The circuit also encourages the development of the child’s sensory processing skills.
Sensory circuits are commonly done first thing in the morning in schools, but can be done at home too. The activities can be utilised at different points of the day, or the activities used as and when required to regulate a child.
Why should I use sensory circuits?
The initial aim of the sensory circuits programme is to facilitate sensory processing and effective sensory integration, allowing children to be in the optimum state of alertness, ready for learning.
However, longer term benefits can include:
- Improvements in self-esteem
- Development of physical skills
- Differences in focus and attention and improved ability to settle down
- Some quiet, unresponsive children appear to have ’woken up’ and are more readily engaging with other children in their class.
- Quicker, more efficient dressing skills have developed as children are keen to take shoes and socks off to join the circuit.
- Opportunities to engage in specific learning e.g. counting or multiplication whilst bouncing on a trampette.
- Improved communication skills for children working at all levels and with a variety of additional needs.
How does Sensory Circuits Work?
The sensory circuits structure is simple. A circuit runs in three sections based on theories of sensory processing and sensory integration.
The aim is to provide vestibular stimulation (providing the brain with sensory information every time the position of the head moves in relation to gravity) within a controlled environment. Alerting activities including skipping, trampette bouncing, using a gym ball and star jumps.
This includes activities that require multi-sensory processing and balance. The individual needs to organise their body, plan their approach and do more than one thing at a time in a set sequential order. Organising activities including climbing, hopping, balancing, and throwing.
The calming activities provide input to ensure that as the children leave the circuit, they calm and centre ready for the day ahead. Calming activities include: press-ups, crawling through a lycra tunnel, or an exercise ball squash.
Do I need lots of equipment?
No, you don’t need lots of equipment, circuits can be done with very little or with what you have at home. If you have a mini trampette or gym ball from your exercise days or pregnancy then these are great. Other than that, there are lots of the exercises you can do at home with no equipment at all. Or plenty that you can use things around the house for. For example, use balled up socks and a wash bin instead of bean bags and a bucket, use a big cushion (from your sofa) for squashes instead of a gym ball.
Check out our YouTube channel for our sensory circuit sessions where you can see a selection of activities you can use in a sensory circuit.
We have designed a sensory path that you can use at home to structure sensory circuit activities and provide your child with visual cues to help them increase their independence.
My biggest tip is to always use movement before a focussed task, whether that be work, sitting at the dinner table, or being able to sit and play a game with your family.