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Storm Lake, IA: Sensory program to help students "learn social skills"

Jan 12, 2018, Storm Lake (IA) Pilot Tribune: School board explores At-Risk programs http://www.stormlakepilottribune.com/story/2475846.html The Alta-Aurelia school board this week heard a report on the Alta At-Risk program. Staff member Sherie Van Berkum explained the Check-In Check-Out program, which is designed for a brief contact with a number of students each day, to make sure things are okay with the students and make sure they start school on a positive note. Throughout the day, additional contacts seek to help students stay focused and centered, or to provide motivation where needed. The process has been heavily revamped this year to meet the needs. One addition is a sensory program. A simple act like running students’ fingers through flour has proved to have a very calming influence. In other cases, STEM activities are used as exercises. The program also includes The Lunch Bunch that takes place in Van Berkum’s room, also known as The Recovery Room. Participants sit on the floor on a picnic blanket. Here, children can learn social skills, share stories on how to deal with issues, and learn not to resort to temper tantrums. … In other instances, The Recovery Room serves as a place where a student can get some one-on-one help to focus on their work. … Students who are upset or angry are asked to decide whether the issue is a big deal or a little deal. … Van Berkum says her job is a blessing, and one of her goals is to develop a sensory room similar to one she observed in Okoboji - where students can learn math by pounding out problems on drums, spelling out works as they cross monkey bars, and utilizing light, sound and other stimulation to improve learning. …