What’s the best weighted vest for students in your classroom? Weighted vests are a terrific tool to calm, organize and focus students with ADHD, sensory processing disorder or autism. With deep sensory input into the muscles and Golgi Tendon Organs (joint receptors) a weighted vest can help a student be more at ease and stay on task in the classroom. “Teachers say my daughter is a different child with the vest on. She can sit and focus in class,” observed mom Lori L.
In general, a weighted vest is selected for individual use. Though parents often provide a weighted vest for their child, this is not always the case. Teachers may keep a weighted vest in the classroom for students who can benefit from the deep pressure and calming compression. Let’s take a look at some key points for choosing the best weighted vest for your classroom.
CHOOSE BEST WEIGHTED VEST FOR EACH AGE
Weighted vests come in multiple styles. Keep in mind the age and preferences of your students to help select one that is age appropriate. Younger children generally enjoy weighted vests with brighter colorswhile tweens, teens or adults often prefer more subtle choices like black. Younger children like vests with pockets or dress up vests with hero themes. Some kids and their families find the best weighted vest is subtle too. Mom Laura H. wrote, “Love the denim vest. It looks like a regular vest and it does not single a child out with special needs.”
SELECT MATERIAL FOR BEST WEIGHTED VEST
Consider the temperature or climate when choosing the best weighted vest for your classroom. Choose vests from fleece, denim, fur or neoprene as well as mesh (compression style) material that is cool and breathable. Since tactile preferences vary by individual and sensory type, try to have a few options in your classroom.
CHOOSE AN ADJUSTABLE WEIGHTED VEST
Choose a weighted vest that is adjustable in size as well as weight. Most weighted vests have adjustable Velcro closures and pockets for weights that allow you to remove or add weights. We suggest starting with a vest that is 5-10% of the person’s body weight, and adjust as needed. Many individuals crave and love the heavy weight. But be careful to check in with the students to see how they feel and whether they prefer more or less weight. Add or decrease weight in increments of 1/4 lb. and 1/2 lb. weights.
USE THE WEIGHTED VEST FOR CONCENTRATION
Most students prefer to use a weighted vest when they are concentrating. For younger students, this may be circle time or while working at an activity center. For older students, this may be when doing work at their desk or taking a test. Also, take the weight off when times of concentration are not needed. This can help minimize an acclimation effect, though you may have a student who wants to wear a vest all day. If so, this may signal that the parents need to provide a vest for all day use. And some parents will be inspired to order a weighted vest for home too. Cathy H. wrote that her son “is currently using this vest at his preschool, ordering this one for home.”
MAKE USE OF THE WEIGHTS FOR OTHER LEARNING ACTIVITIES
Using weighted vests in your classroom can offer a double reward. Since the weights in your weighted vest are removable, these can be used for a lesson plan on weights and measures, as part of your science or math curriculum, as a sensory game for tossing into a target, or even as a hand weight to help warm up before handwriting.
CARING FOR YOUR CLASSROOM WEIGHTED VEST
Be sure to keep your weighted vest clean! Remember to remove the weights and then machine wash and air dry. Though most vests wipe clean quite easily, periodic washing is ideal. You can also request that students who drool or are less tidy purchase their own vest.
A weighted vest is useful from early childhood through adulthood, and can decrease anxiety and improve focus according to research studies. Please share your experience on how the weighted vest has enhanced the learning in your classroom, and contact us with any questions.