3 Qs with Dr. Aaron Kuhn
Dr. Aaron Kuhn is a social and emotional learning specialist who provides professional instruction to school districts as part of Garmann Miller’s Educational Visioning team.
He recently led an in-depth session at GM’s Minster office that focused on parenting techniques to help kids reach their full potential. After his presentation to dozens of Garmann Miller parents and interested team members, Dr. Kuhn visited with us to share how his experience plays a key role in designing K-12 educational spaces and how in-person learning contributes to mental health.
Q: How does having a mental health expert on your design team help when planning K-12 learning environments?
A: There are many issues that students of those ages face, such as sensory processing issues, attention deficit or trauma. What happens in school and learning environments are very important in relation to social psychology and cognitive therapy. When I team up with Garmann Miller’s architects and interior designers, we look at therapeutic and sensory friendly learning environments and adaptable spaces to accommodate students who have those needs. Having a flexible space to be able to accommodate a student with a sensory issue or a mental health issue and being able to regulate through things is essential for the mental health of the child. Spaces that are sensory friendly in the aspect of not being overcrowded, being spacious, with a combination of calming and stimulating color hues, are essential to address students’ needs. Strategically altering a student’s physical environment impacts their executive functioning skills, so we focus on flexible, functional spaces, where modern learning environments promote the physical, emotional and social well-being of the student.
Q: Talk about how you collaborate with GM’s architects and interior designers?
A: We definitely coexist as each of our disciplines is focused on what’s best for the student and how we create an environment that maximizes learning potential. If we can pinpoint exactly what a space or accommodations can help with, I think us working together to design a space that is conducive for mental health, learning disabilities and trauma responses is going to be a benefit to the student’s lifelong growth.
Q: From a mental health standpoint, how does in-person learning help the educational process?
A: I think in-person learning is very important for mental health. For example, a student with attention deficit, if she or he is not in a space designed for educational purposes and is learning on a computer, they’re just a click away from distraction. Being able to learn with all their facets—what they see, what they touch, what they hear—is key because kids with disabilities are kids that have needs that require learning in a variety of ways. So in a brick-and-mortar setting, they can see it, touch it, hear it, and behind a screen, it’s just not as effective.
Dr. Kuhn holds professional licenses as an Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor- Clinical Supervisor and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor supervisory status. He works out of his 316 West Market Street office in Celina, Ohio, and can be reached at 419.586.3900.