Students are learning to explore their senses thanks to a bright and bouncy newly fitted soft play area in the main school building.
Learning Support Base Coordinator Jeanette Cole, explained how the soft play area can help stimulate imagination, and also assist with literacy and numeracy and other conventional subjects. She said:
‘Soft play can be used to promote literacy and learning in practical ways. For example, we get the pupils to time each other doing circuits. which is useful for numeracy, science and P.E. It also helps with colour recognition and all the jumping, pulling and pushing can positively feed into mnay curricular activities’.
Jeanette gives individuals or groups alotted time slots and staff are always present to facilitate structured play. An important part of the session is at the end. All pupils are given five minutes to regulate their bodies using deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Jeanette explained:
‘This helps the pupils to experience different emotions and it gives them the tools to cope with them’.
Many times this week I have heard chidren asking Jeanette when it will be their turn to go in the soft play area, so I decided to get some first-hand reactions and visited the soft play area during After School Club.
During my visit the ball pit was being frenetically occupied by three boys having play fights and throwing the soft balls at each other amidst much laughter. Meanwhile some primary students were busily engaged in a game of tag with LSA Stacey Borrill. Stacey said:
‘It’s great in here because it lets them burn off energy in a safe environment. I think it teaches them boundaries; I’m here to call a stop if it gets out of hand and they have to wait their turn and come out when their turn is over. It also helps to build their imaginations because the students can make up their own games in here, like playing tag and zombies. The main point of it though, is that they are allowed to experience heightened emotion, get really, really excited and then come back down. It is a safe place for them to learn to do that’.
Students Josh Morris, Owen Richards and Rhys Bailey gave me their verdicts on the new soft play area while buried neck deep in coloured balls. Josh said, ‘It’s great, it’s fab’. Owen said, ‘I like all of it, but my favourite thing is the ball pit’. Rhys added, ‘Yeah because we are allowed to play what we want in here and chuck balls at each other’.
The soft play area is great for kinaesthetic learners and students who struggle to regulate their emotions – plus it’s great fun!