When homeschooling sometimes kids can be very frustrating. I have had days where I have said the word focus so many times I think my head might spin. Sometimes this is because a child doesn’t want to do school work. Other times it could be a learning difficulty like dyslexia. However, sometimes it could be because your child has a sensory need that isn’t being met. Today I want to help you answer the question, “does my child have sensory issues?” I think that finding the answer to this will really help you find freedom and relieve some of the homeschool stress.
Does my child have sensory issues?
I am going to highlight a few of the different sensory issues you might see in your homeschool as well as some potential solutions to them. Sensory issues don’t always mean that your child has sensory processing disorder but it can mean that. If you think your child has sensory processing disorder speak with your doctor. This is in no way advice to treat the disorder. Instead, these are just some tips and tricks if your kids have sensory issues that could effect their homeschooling.
Please know that if your child has sensory needs they are not being difficult just to be difficult. In most cases, they can not focus on anything else until that need is met. By meeting that sensory need you free them up to focus.
Oral Sensory Needs
For R, this meant that she chewed up every single pencil she had. We would go through a pencil every single day. She always needed to be chewing something. If she wasn’t chewing something she was not able to focus. I couldn’t go through a pencil every single day. We found some great alternatives to this.
Look for chewing, thumb sucking, eating frequently, or constantly putting things in their mouth.
– Gum – This keeps the mouth busy while giving them the sensory input they need.
– Carrots – The crunch of a carrot can satisfy the sensory need without the unneeded calories of a snack like chips or crackers. You could also use raw green beans, broccoli, or apple slices.
– Chewy Tubes – These are great if you want something for your child to chew on without using food as an option. They can be put on a string to be worn as a necklace or held by the student.
– Ice chips – These can offer a different sensory experience for a child with oral sensory needs. A cup of ice chips kept near the desk can satisfy that need so that your child can focus.
– Warm drinks/Cold Drinks – Depending on the sensory need having a warm or cold drink on hand can meet that need and help your child to go back to the task at hand.
Auditory Sensory Needs
These needs can fall into two categories, too much noise and too little. If your child has too much or too little sound they will not be able to focus and do what they need to do. There are some simple solutions though.
– Noise Cancelling Headphones – If your child struggles with too much input this can be a great way to get rid of the noise without having everyone completely silent. I bought a pair for R and it really helped her to focus on just what she was working on.
– Pick another room – If your child struggles with too much noise, doing school in another room or in their bedroom may be a perfect solution. It will remove the child from the overwhelming noise without overwhelming the rest of the family.
– Headphones – A simple ipod shuffle filled with music or white noise can be a great solution for children who need more noise than they are getting.
– Noise makers – Items such as rainmakers and different shake toys can be a great way to let your child control extra noise when they need noise. Fill a bottle with beads and let them shake it.
For some children touch is a very important sensory need. They need to have someone touching them at all times or they need to touch a certain texture in order to focus. This can be taxing if you have multiple children. However, there are ways to meet your child’s needs while still taking great care of your other children.
– Be available. – If your child wants your touch sometimes the best thing you can do is be there to scratch their back or let them lean on you.
– Pets – Dogs and cats can be very affectionate. This can be a great way for your child to meet their physical needs during school work while you work with another child. Something as simple as having a cat in their lap may meet that physical need so they are able to focus more effectively.
– Fidgets – These are different items such as stress balls that give your child the ability to fidget with something that they are approved to fidget with. It may surprise you, but these can really change your entire homeschool if you have a child with touch needs.
– Pinto Beans – A friend has a child with touch needs. She fills a small bucket with pinto beans. Her son puts his feet in them for school. He wiggles his feet in them and focuses so much better.
– Velcro – Velcro has two sides that can help with different sensory needs. Whether your child wants something scratchy or something soft, this can be the perfect outlet.
– Weighted Blankets – Weighted blankets, pillows, and vests are a great option for a child who needs that touch. Look into these and try them for your homeschool.
For some children smells can distract from school or help them to focus on school.
– Essential oils – These are a great way to bring certain smells into your home without having to have a lot of items. I recently saw someone who put a drop on a cotton ball of each smell and put them in a pill box. This would be a great way for a child to smell a certain smell.
– Espresso Beans – Espresso beans will get rid of any smell. If your child has a smell aversion let them smell espresso beans. When I was pregnant I lived with a ziploc bag of espresso beans to combat bad smells.
Does your child have a sensory issue or sensitivity? What do you do to cope?
Looking for more?