BY MONICA DEREGT, ACADEMIC COUNSELLOR
I have an eclectic gathering of gadgets on my desk. Some might think of them as toys; others may think I have a unique decorating style. Among my collection is a playable rainbow art ball, a squishy silicone cat, a fake bonsai tree, a magnetic hourglass, lavender-scented stress balls, and more. There is also a candy dish, which is hands-down the most popular item in my office.
Is It Salty?
It all started with the Himalayan salt rock lamp. Along with some plastic greenery, I bought it to add décor and warmth to my windowless, grey-walled office. It was a bonus when I discovered these lamps also provide supposed health benefits (something about positive ions affecting mood, which has sparked more than a little amount of teasing from certain fellow staff members who may have slung the words “voodoo lamp”at me in the early days. I forgive you now that you are the principal, Mr. Riezebos.)
Imagine my surprise one day when a student came into my office and asked if he could lick the lamp! It is made from salt, after all, and he wanted to know if it would taste salty. I’ll admit I had wondered too, and so we made a deal. If he disinfected the spot he tasted and didn’t hold me accountable for any side effects, I would support his investigation. Other students have been similarly curious about the lamp’s saltiness since then, but none have been so bold (Note: this is not a challenge!).
When one of our sons was younger, he wanted to explore the world around him with all of his senses. He would crash his Little Tykes car into walls just to feel the resistance. He would reach out and touch anything that looked squishy, even if it was a cactus with spiny thorns or a do-not-touch item in a museum. Cellophane wrapped packages in grocery stores were a favourite to poke his finger into. He loved to pretend he was a “sniffer dog” and he would look for scent trails (this didn’t always end well).
And once, when we were viewing a house to possibly purchase, he dipped his finger into a goldfish bowl and proceeded to taste the water! His response to my disgusted horror was that he needed to know if it was salt water or fresh water, because that would tell us a lot about the people that owned the house.
Just Made Their Day
God gave us senses to experience the gift of His world, and I believe when multiple senses are engaged, this can be conducive to better learning and better communication.
I especially love the way our classrooms and hallways at ACS continuously engage all of our senses:
- Band and choir and music filling our ears. Rain pounding on the ceiling. Laughter bubbling out of every corner at break and lunch.
- Delicious scents of cinnamon buns baking in the foods room. Or popped popcorn prepared for a movie during class. Or the industrial smells of mechanics students fixing cars for the community.
- Seeing beautiful art and being surrounded by the pictures of student life and learning in all of the hallways. Watching science experiments unfold and drama classes practice scenes.
- Classes going on trips to farms and fish hatcheries and museums to feel and experience the real world. Students bouncing balls and running loops to building furniture and sewing dresses.
- The taste of comforting foods served during international lunches or the bite of a brownie purchased from the school store. The sweetness of a mint or other special treat from one of the candy jars in various offices around campus. (And maybe even the lick of a salt lamp…)
And so, I keep adding to my collection of sensory objects on my desk. Because I love to see students’ faces light up when they watch the magnetic formations grow in the hourglass, or when they begin to rearrange the art ball, or solve the Rubik’s cube.
And I welcome the students who come to see me for no other reason than for the candies in my bowl, because I know it brings a bright spot to their day.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8