How a Brain-Based School Prepares for a New Year

I know that August is the month when most school teachers begin to prepare for a tedious 10-month school year.  There are books to order, lesson to prepare, classrooms to organize and decorate, hallways to adorn and a host of other ways that schools prepare for students’ arrival for the school year.

Lakeside prepares for school just a little differently

Student rocking chair helps student self-regulate
Student rocking chair helps student self-regulate

At Lakeside, preparations look a bit different. There are a variety of innovative furnishings: student rocking chairs, stand-up desks, and even rocking desks. We literally have a room full of all kinds of brain-based fidgets and assorted calming agents that are now being dispersed to our programs.

Our music therapist is busy putting together new music playlists to help our students calm, focus or be motivated. Our Facility Management and IT Departments are busy wiring our hallways and public areas to have programmed music that will be heard by our students throughout our campuses.

And that’s not all we do to prepare…

We are establishing new training on student self-regulation principles for staff to teach students. We are also developing our Neurological curriculum which will help students to learn about their brains along with self-regulation principles.

Lakeside service dog
One of Lakeside’s two new service dogs being friendly.

As I stated a few weeks ago, we have two new Labrador retrievers coming soon, which means we will be sending our dog-handling staff to training in August. We also have just built a new dog run on our property to allow our dogs to have their own space.

We are looking at our research models to see how we can validate our results with brain-based initiatives. We are very concerned that we are effective with our students as we strive to help them regulate better.

Brain regulation rather than typical disciplinary systems

We are evaluating our programs at many levels to see how brain regulation can be utilized more effectively than a typical discipline system which can be isolating to students. (We already know isolation as discipline does not work.) If we can have students be more active in their own brain-state regulation then we can help them be proactive in their self-control.

Even in our décor we are considering how we may provide the best sensory environment. We want the visuals in the hallways and classrooms to be calming for our students. We are considering different lighting, bubble walls,  electronics and other environmental influencers that we hope will set the tone for a calm and focused environment.

I am sure I have missed some of the aspects of our preparations currently underway prior to the beginning of school. Yes, we do the typical preparations but there is so much more for a brain-based environment to be effective.

As in any school year, we are very excited about all that is going on at Lakeside. 

We are so pleased to be one of the leading brain-based school environments in our region. We are also in a consultative role with other educational and clinical environments, and we hope to replicate our work throughout our region and subsequently at a national level.

The beginning of the 2015-16 school year is just around the corner. The preparations are intense, and we are thrilled to be thinking about students, their regulation, their relationships and their ability to learn in new and different ways to achieve.

We are hoping this will be the best year yet as we strive to help our students overcome some very difficult obstacles to find new opportunities and success .

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network


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