Forest Elementary Sensory Path Helps Kids Focus on Learning


When Forest Elementary School held its Open House for back-to-school week, there was something special waiting for the children. Installed over the summer as a permanent feature in the school, a sensory path now decorates the hallway, providing a fun and meaningful resource for all students, but especially those with a sensory processing disorder. 

What is a sensory path? It’s a series of colorful shapes, numbers and pictures that guide children through various activities, obstacles and puzzles, combining movement and enhanced cognitive functioning.

Why a sensory path? As FES Second Grade Teacher Shenandoah French wrote in her application for a grant from the Bedford Area Educational Foundation, “A child with a sensory processing disorder has a hard time turning their brain off. They are trying to process different things at once. From sitting up in the chair, climate in the room, other children sitting next to them, smells, teacher talking, other children talking and movements in the room, what we usually tune out, they are tuning into. They need a brain break.”

Getting up out of their seats and moving in a structured and fun way helps students to refocus. Research shows that providing a series of movements can help reduce sensory-seeking behaviors and increase attention. Sensory processing disorder is common among students with disabilities such as autism.  

Ms. French was awarded a Foundation grant for the sensory path, which was funded through donations by the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation and Adams Insurance Agency. She said the children were delighted to see the addition when they came back to school.

Principal Lorri B. Manley has supported the project and even helped install the hundreds of pieces that comprise the sensory path.

Congratulations to FES on their grant and their innovative learning resource.

The Bedford Area Educational Foundation welcomes all teachers to submit their creative instruction ideas in the next grant cycle; applications are due Nov. 1 at Community members and businesses that would like to help fund such projects in our schools should visit

See it in use in these news stories by:

WSET-13, Sept. 17

WDBJ-7, Sept. 18