I find myself reminiscing on the days that I worked as an Integration Specialist at a private school in Oakville, ON. Those were some of my best days! One thing that I loved doing the most was working to create an affirming, safe, and inclusive space for all; a space, where in times of stress and dysregulation, children could find a quiet area to comfort them and help them to bounce back. I enjoyed being able to go on Pinterest or use my own imagination to come up with various sensory bins and boards. Heck, I remember even buying clear VCR cases, attaching zip-block bags filled with sensory items (sand with small, random, textured items), and using them as I-Spy calming kits. I loved finding posters about emotions and facial expressions, I loved placing individual mirrors in baskets to encourage self-awareness, and I loved implementing various tools to show emotional regulation strategies which included Figure-8 breathing, the feelings thermometer with coping strategies for each stage of emotion, PECS, and Choice Boards. I wish I could have had essential oils available to fill the air, however, I was happy to settle for providing popsicles or having the children paint with chocolate pudding (a simple yet exciting activity I did back in JK - I can still remember the smell of chocolate and being able to explore by getting messy with the ‘paint’ that I could eat). I always made sure there was a timer available to support transitioning. Where I found the most joy, however, was being able to set out various children’s books for our book nook to help with social skills, emotions, and friendships. I never realized just how powerful literacy could be until I was able to see children read or be read to, later to apply what they learn within the environment. Books can truly be such effective resources and bring others to such an awakening-their breakthrough!
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