Hackham East Primary School is one of the lead schools in South Australia in regard to Interoception. As a school we are very proud of our Interoception journey to further support student wellbeing. Since the implementation of developing awareness in 2016 and setting up our Interoception Room in 2017, we have had over 300 educators from across South Australia visit our school to learn about the positive impact that the implementation of Interoception has had on our school.
Interoception is a pre‐requisite skill for self‐management and self‐regulation. It provides the tools to know when we are developing emotional reactions and the skills to be in control of these reactions. Interoception is an internal sensory system where the internal physical and emotional states of the body are noticed, recognised, identified and responded to. Interoception skills are needed for functions such as knowing when to go to the toilet, being aware that you are becoming angry or upset and being able to manage your emotions proactively.
The reality is that as all students come to school with differing academic abilities. Students also come to school with a differing capacity to collaborate with their peers, get along with others, the ability to work through a problem, skills to develop friendships as well as their level of empathy and their ability to self-regulate their emotions.
"Going back into Castle gives me a smile and a frown because I remember how bad I was, but I’m not like that anymore. I think it is this room that helped.” Year 5 student.
Children and young people will struggle with their own emotions and social interactions if they have not developed Interoception skills. Even just being around others may be difficult for them to manage. Children and young people with well-developed Interoception are able to use both logic and emotions to respond to their environment. Those without tend to rely on logic and have to carefully think through their possible responses to each situation. Children quite often don’t have the skills to do this which can lead to overload, shutdown, meltdowns and anxiety.
Interoception activities are explicitly taught to each class 7-8 times per week taking about 5 minutes each time. An interoceptive activity focuses on creating and noticing an internal change. They can focus on any of the following, muscles, breathing, temperature, pulse or touch. People with atypical Interoception can't identify mood changes or self‐regulate their body. Interoception activities teach us to connect with these.
Benefits of Teaching Interoception
- Helps children and young people connect to and learn to understand their bodies and emotions.
- Helps children and young people develop a sense of belonging. Without Interoception, social skills are just the application of rules and not a meaningful way of interacting.
- Classrooms where Interoception is being taught have decreasing behavioural challenges over the school year.
Our Interoception Room is located in our School Library and is open every morning from 8.45am. Parents/Caregivers, we support your decision if you feel that Interoception is the best place for your child to start the day, to bring them in. 5 minutes in the Interoception Room is quite often the support that some children need to prepare and set them up for the day. If you are unfamiliar with the Interoception Room, please come in for a visit to see how Hackham East Primary School is supporting our student’s wellbeing.
Scott Megson, Deputy Principal