BY: CAMRYN HILL
Treasure Hills Elementary welcomed students back to school with a sensory pathway which was funded by the Harlingen Area Educational Foundation.
“The sensory pathway is actually a grant that I applied for,” Treasure Hills Elementary life skills teacher Jeanne Jimenez said. “I saw a need over the last couple of years that we just needed an extra area where these kids can kind of let out their wiggles. What I noticed last year when some of the kids started coming to school is that they’re not used to just sitting. I think that them coming back and with what I saw, the kids need that minute to move around and get all the wiggles out, and then they are able to focus a little bit more.”
Sensory pathways allow students an option for quick energy breaks while they are on campus.
“On the pathway, there are a variety of different activities,” Treasure Hills Elementary assistant principal Kimberly McCutcheon said. “Students can march, hop, jump, tiptoe, follow a path, and they can walk from heel to toe.” “Students have to have those energy breaks throughout the day. The sensory pathway allows for it right there near the classroom. When the teacher sees that this break is needed, they can send that child through the pathway for the break, so they can then get back to work.”
The sensory pathway provides an engaging experience that gets students up and moving around. With the various activities available in the pathway, students can quickly release their energy and head back to the classroom.
“It’s a learning piece,” McCutcheon said. “It’s teaching them that we are going to go and do this to expend their energy, but then it’s time to focus. We are hoping that it’s really going to become that teaching piece of, ‘First I play, and then I can learn.’”
The all-inclusive sensory pathway is open to every student.
“The grant that Ms. Jimenez applied for is amazing because it works for all of our kids, and it really is beneficial for our kids with special needs,” McCutcheon said. “The best part is that all of our students can use it, especially those kiddos that have a lot of energy and need a way to channel it, and it’s super, super effective.”
One of the sensory pathways at Treasure Hills will be available at the beginning of this school year. Another pathway, which includes activities for students to do on the floor and the walls, will be available in December.
“My plan is to train all the staff on how to use it, when to use it, and what it is for,” Jimenez said. “Right now, they think that it’s really cool that it’s being laid out, but some don’t understand the whole purpose of it. I will do training with the staff, and they’ll know how to implement the pathway in their classrooms for it to be fully successful for students.”
The sensory pathway is one of two HAEF-granted projects at Treasure Hills Elementary.
“We’re very excited about the Harlingen Area Educational Foundation and the grants that we have received here at Treasure Hills,” McCutcheon said. “The pathway is a lot of fun, and we are all looking forward to it.”