Leading the Way on the Sensory Path

September 13, 2019

Early in my teacher training, I learned that what is necessary for some is good for most.  The new Sensory Pathway on the second floor of Paul Penna DJDS has been an actualization of this adage.  Sensory Pathways were originally designed to meet the needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but clearly they are exciting and beneficial to everyone.  

There is no question that our new Sensory Pathway has brought a lot of fun to the 2nd floor of our school.  Of particular note, however, is that it has also created a space that has tremendous benefits to the learning dispositions of our students.  Research, mostly done by occupational therapists, has shown that a series of key movements can decrease sensory-seeking behaviors while increasing cognition.  Aesthetically engaging paths contribute to sensory-integrated movement. This translates into children engaging in simple movements during the course of their regular school day,  allowing them to engage in classic academic work and the social demands of school with more focus and emotional regulation.  

This Sensory Pathway design was developed by Special Education teacher, Holly Clay, just for us. This week, the MNjcc is taking our lead and  installing a pre-school appropriate Sensory Hallway in the Thomas and Marjorie Schwartz Preschool Centre. Over the course of the term, we will be installing a Sensory Path designed for our southern stairwell as well as a Pathway on the 3rd floor, custom designed with a special Paul Penna DJDS flair for our Grades 4, 5 and 6 students. 

Over the summer, our Student Services Coordinator, Pauline Landen and our wonderful school OT, Ashleigh Eccles, arranged the pieces to ensure the sensory landscape would best meet the needs of our students and would work with the restrictions of our small space.  The final design beautifully demonstrates the joint commitment of Paul Penna DJDS and the MNjcc to diversity and inclusion. We invite you to get in touch for a visit so that you too can hop, skip and jump along our Sensory Pathway and see how our students start their days off on the right foot!

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Paul Penna Downtown
Jewish Day School
750 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J2
(Located in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre)


(416) 928-3537