In our schools at Lakeside we are very intentional to give our students the tools they need to deal with their brain dysregulation. Neuroscience research is clear that somatosensory types of interventions help our brains become more cognitive and calm so that we can have better judgement, use good logic, control our behavior and are able to learn more effectively.
However, it takes a great deal of intentionality. This means that we must help students understand what brain state they are in and give them the tools to regulate their brains and take charge of their emotions, their thinking and their behavior.
One way that we allow them to take charge of their brains and regulate is through our walking track that has stations for regulation. We have designed a staged set of activities that work from the bottom of the brain (the fight or flight center) to cognitive parts of the brain where we are most calm and cogent.
The track is set next to our beautiful and serene lake. As you enter the walking area that is filled with flora and scented flowers when in season you first encounter a set of swings for that sense of methodical rocking. That is important for the brainstem to regulate.
Next there is a drumming station for rhythm. This is followed by chimes which will give tonal blends for working in the low to mid-levels of the brain, moving towards more cognitive brain states.
Then there are two balancing areas, one that allows walking on narrow beams, stones and a balance spring and the other is a tree swing that has both rocking and balance. This allows a progression of regulation through the mid-brain regions.
Next there is a tri-level climbing wall, addressing fine motor skills and then there is vigorous exercise equipment used for a more vigorous work-out, using all aspects of the body. This is quicker paced and accentuates body movement at multi-levels.
Finally there is a rocking bench overlooking our lake, for reflection, creating that cognitive space of calm regulation to complete the process of brain regulation.
This is a great somatosensory model for anyone who is struggling with trauma, adversity or some sense of high threat in the brain. This kind of routine is healthy for all students and adults. Such apparatus should be available to us all to cope with the stress of life. Every school should have access to these kinds of sensations and interventions for students. This can allow them to better cope with stress and learn how to self-regulate so they can have better relationships and think more clearly as they learn and grow.