Teaching the 5-W-H Questions: Part 3

By Christine Marchant

If you read my previous posts, you’d notice that I have a system to teaching the 5-W-H questions.

By the time the child has surpassed level two and is ready for level three, he is not impressed with the ‘preschool’ attempts.  The magnetic fishing and the Caribou games no longer hold his interest.  Using basic pictures will often bore him to death!  There is no right or wrong way to teach, but the best way is to match your system to the child’s learning style.  It is important to observe if the child is an active or passive learner.  The active learner loves games and action. The passive learner prefers work sheets, scrabble and card games etc.  I have watched many therapists teach the 5-W-H questions to children.  Most of them are for younger children, I have had a few older children that are a bigger challenge.  The little children are happy with ANY game you come up with, while the older ones are more tricky.  With the older children, I find just saying: “this is our target—this is what we are doing and when we are finished, then you can play your game” is the more effective.  We set up their favorite game, then we do “target” then your turn, “target” then your turn.  My rules are that we do two cycles of “target’ games, then we do one game “free style” game.  Free style is playing the game any way the child wants to.  It’s ok if the child rigs it for them to win EVERY TIME!   I don’t care!  Just get the child hooked.

Teaching before and after is often a challenge.  It’s vague and abstract thinking.  It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future.  That’s why I teach “before” first.

1) Find books or photos that show a TON of details in each photo.  I use books, flash cards, and random photos saved on to my Ipad.

2) I bring out their favorite game, then the photos.

3) At this level, the child is already hooked into the program.  The first player looks at the photo, and describes what is in the photo, then says what he thinks might have happened just before this photo.

4) The other players can agree or disagree.  This opens an interesting conversation.

5) Follow the same pattern that I shared in the previous posts:

What do you suppose happened before the girl fell off her bike?

Who do you suppose she was with?

Why do you suppose she fall off the bike?

Where do you suppose she was?

When do you suppose this happened?

How did we come up with the “before” information?

6) When all players are satisfied with the answers, the player takes their turn.

7) By providing their favorite game, the child is usually motivated to do the “work”.

8) Sometimes, at this level, the child finds it difficult and tries to avoid the “work”.  If this happens, just sit quiet and say, first we do the “target” then you can play the game. The desire to play usually is enough.

I find it very rewarding to see the children go on this journey.  I love seeing the look of amazement and understanding in their eyes as they become more aware of their world.  I decided in high school that I wanted to work with children and I’ve enjoyed every year.  I have one more post on this topic, which involves teaching “after” and then I move on to teaching other aspects of language.

Read More

Teaching the 5-W-H Questions: Part 2

By Christine Marchant

I am sharing my experiences as a mom for 30 years, a Day Home Provider for 20 years, and a Child Development Facilitator for 5 years.  The first post in this series was sharing the first basic level of how to teach the 5-W-H questions, which are “who, what, where, when, why how” to a child.  If you read my earlier post, you would have read one of the ways I taught the 5-W-H questions.  There are MANY different ways to teach it.  This is only one of the ways I found to be successful.  If the child doesn’t have that basic level of understanding, trying to teach any higher level is possible, but is more difficult.  Exposing the child to “social thinking” is a tricky thing to teach…. Ok, it actually isn’t.  I was finding it complicated, until I realized that I’ve been doing it for years.  Today, I have chosen one of the many ways.  I decided to stay with the formula I wrote about previously.

Level two deals with more abstract ideas and requires a little more effort and preparing than level one.  It is important to pick one system or formula and stay with it throughout the whole journey.  Children like patterns and like to know what is expected and it’s more consistent.  When choosing what approach you will take, you need to know what type of learner the child is and what will keep their attention.  An active learner prefers games and action and a passive learner enjoys worksheets, using dry erase pens, etc.  The next important step is to assess what level the child is.  ALWAYS teach at the child’s level.  The next step is to always teach responsibly.  No one knows what someone else is feeling or thinking etc.  This is why it drives me CRAZY when I see an adult saying, “what is the boy thinking?” or “What is he feeling?” or “where is the boy?”.  The first level, you can do this.  It’s concrete, and that the level the child is.  After that, I prefer to say, “What do you suppose the person is thinking?” I try not to tell the child that a picture is a boy or girl.  I try not to label the gender, but instead follow the lead of the child.  If the child insists the child in a dress is a boy, I don’t correct him or try to convince him it is a girl.  (I gloss over it) because It’s not my place to enforce my opinion on to the children.  Keep the goal in mind!!  We are teaching 5-W-H not genders.

I found looking at simple photos and asking the 5-W-H questions gets stale FAST!  The child gets bored easily.  They are very clever.  Not all the 5-W-H questions are relevant to every photo.  I prefer photos with LOTS of details and actions.  Sometimes all questions are not applicable to every photo.  My favorite way to teach is through books.  I go to a thrift store and for $1, I buy books with a lot of expressions and emotions.  I glue blank paper over ALL of the typing.  YES!  Deface that book!  Then I look at each page and type out my own 5-W-H questions that are relevant to what the picture is showing.  This sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t.  I just glue on the level I’m currently teaching.  I then add more questions as the child achieves their goals.  I start one level at a time.  You can use the same book for the entire journey.  Don’t put all the levels at once.  In level 2, we are exposing the child to “what is the person thinking” and “what is the person feeling.”  You can use different books, every child has different interests.  You can put your books in your tool box and pull out different books, as long as you stay with the same system.  Keep the “thinking” questions to the left page and the “feeling” questions to the right page.  Stay consistent.  This comes in handy when you have an active learner.  I will describe the games I use for my active learners at a later date.

Here is an example of the book I made this week for my older child:

I covered the original story, and I typed “thinking” questions on the left page.

What do you suppose the Mom is thinking?

What do you suppose the child is thinking ?

Why do you suppose the Mom is thinking?

Why do you suppose the child is thinking?

Who else may be thinking ?

Where do you suppose they are?

When do you suppose this is happening ?

How can you tell Mom is thinking?

How can you tell the child is thinking?

You can talk about their expressions, or how the body is showing what they may be thinking.  Look!  The Mom’s eyes are large and round, her hands are in the air, etc.  What do you think she’s thinking about? Etc.  Then on the right page, I typed “feeling” questions.

What do you think the Mom is feeling?

What do you think the child is feeling?

Who else may be feeling?

Why do you think the Mom is feeling?

Why do you think the child is feeling?

Where do you suppose this is happening ?

When do you suppose this is happening ?

How can you tell Mom is feeling?

How can you tell the child is feeling?

There are no right or wrong answers.  I use this as a conversation starter and encourage a discussion or even debate about what the character is feeling.  As we go along the journey, this easy going approach has the child feeling good and positive about sharing ideas and debating each person’s opinions etc.  This teaches the child that other people have their own thoughts and feelings and they are sometimes different than what the child believes.

At the first glance, it looks like it isn’t teaching social thinking.  “Ask your Mom, how are you.”  “Ask your brother why he is crying,”  etc.  I found the child wasn’t able to do that in a genuine inquiry.  They ask that because they are taught to ask those questions.  You take a book, and you are ‘discovering’ these questions.  There are no right or wrong questions and answers, but a genuine conversation happens.  It is an exchange of ideas.  The child’s awareness blooms and they are genuinely interested in the people and things around them.

The next post will be sharing my experiences in teaching the 5-W-H before and after the picture we are looking at.  Exposing the child to an even deeper level of thinking about what could have happened earlier to cause this person to be thinking___ or feeling____.

Read More

Teaching the 5-W-H questions: Part 1

By Christine Marchant

Teaching the 5-W-H questions (who, what where why and how) is different for each child. At least, that’s what I thought, until one day I realized that I’ve been teaching it for several years.  I discovered that the verbal level of the child does not matter.  I have a child who is not much higher than “non verbal.”  She is very intelligent, but is unable to express herself.  Without realizing it, I actually taught her the 5-W-H questions.  I sat down and started to write down the formula I used.  I then tried it on my preschool boy, and he got it!  I then tried it on my other preschool boy and he got it!  I was amazed!  I wrote out the formula step by step, and next week, I will try it on my older boy.

I’m not a speech pathologist, but I do have decades of experience raising children, and 5 years experience as a child development facilitator.  I am on many full service teams.  I am only sharing my experience working with many therapists and children.  This is the formula that works for me.

The 5-W-H questions can be very difficult to teach because they are abstract and can be a challenge for children and their support aides.  I started with the most concrete and easy W question, and then worked up to the most abstract and difficult questions, which are WHY and HOW.  Children will move through these steps at different speeds.  The amount of time isn’t the goal.  The goal is to have the child concretely understand the question and why and when to use it.  Stay with the formula and repeat as often as needed.  If the child ‘loses their grasp’ of the knowledge, just drop back one step, do a quick review, and when it’s concrete again move to the next step.  Don’t change the order or the formula.   Just go forward and backwards.

My girl took 3 years, my preschool boys took weeks, and my older boy will most likely have it mastered in a few sessions.  Go slow and stay faithful to the formula.  Do not move to the next level until the previous levels are set, concrete, and consistent.  Once the child knows the formula, you don’t need the visual.  I use the visual for my girl because she’s still almost non verbal and LOVES to print her thoughts.  The visual helps her remember where each answer belongs.  Once the child is consistently responding correctly to each question, you can mix them up and be creative.

On a sheet of paper, create 6 columns and in each column, print the 5-W-H questions allow enough space to print at least 4-5 words.

___________________________________________________________________

WHO                       WHAT                WHERE                     WHEN                 WHY                  HOW

___________________________________________________________________

I like to use a set of 24 photos.  Use 6 at a time- 3 turns each.  I keep it to 10 to 15 minutes per activity.

I repeat the activity twice.  Then put it away, I do this twice a session.  It’s more effective to teach shorter lengths of time more often than longer times, less often.

Leave the columns blank and laminate the sheet.

Level 1

  • Only ask WHO and leave the rest of the columns blank
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • Do this for each photo, the adult should go first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly

Level 2

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT and leave the rest blank
  • Do this for each photo, and the adult should go first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly.
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?

Level 3

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE and leave the rest blank
  • Do this for each photo, yougo first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • What is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • Follow the same steps as level 1 and 2

Level 4

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • Repeat the same steps.

Level 5

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-WHY
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • WHY are they riding the bike?
  • Follow the same steps

Level 6

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-HOW.
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • WHY are they riding the bike?
  • HOW are they riding the bike?
  • Repeat the same steps.
Read More

The Importance of Outdoor Play

By Simran Saroya

Outdoor is essential in a child’s life just as fruits and vegetables are. Natural elements incorporated into a child’s play is very important, it allows them to start understanding this world and how it works as well as build knowledge. Allowing the child to play outdoors will strengthen muscle strength and coordination, allow for deeper exploration and help them gain self-confidence.  

 Sometimes we think that a playground MUST be present for a child to have fun. In reality, a child can have fun in any environment with almost anything. From swinging on the swing and gaining a new perspective to digging in the dirt and analyzing the world around them. By adding additional equipment for your child to use outdoors you are adding to their learning through play but it is not necessarily needed. 

 Through this exciting process it was always nice to have someone accompany them. Having a buddy while discovering new things always make things more exciting. Being present and engaged with the child is a fun way to help your child learn new skills and information. An adult being present to answer their curious questions will allow the child to deeper understand the concept and build/ strengthen your relationship. There are six crucial benefits to keep in mind when your child wants to play outside. 

  1. Learning 
  1. Building Social Skills 
  1. Being Creative 
  1. Health 
  1. Exploring New Environments 

A child playing alongside peers or adults is co-learning and co-imagining which actually helps with building social skills and benefits their learning. Acorns may just look like acorns to us adults but to a child it could be food play or a treasure, you never know what their little minds will come up with. Roleplay is the most common way a child mimics the adults around them. This behavior is having them use their imaginative and creative side to come up with these scenarios. Using their imagination allows them to be creative and explore further and deeper into their play. Playing outside also has long term health benefits such as reduction of stress, regulation of the body and vitamin D consumption.  

 Now, you may be stuck with the question “How do I get my child to play outside?”. 

 In the world of technology today it is getting harder and harder to get their minds less engaged in screens and more engaged in the natural environments. Some ideas I can suggest include the following: to have a picnic, draw with chalk, turn on the sprinklers, go find some treasure or even ride bicycles together or with a friend. The chilly winter shouldn’t’ stop you either! In the winter the child can build snowmen, snow angels and paint the snow. Summer or winter, the child will find something to do outdoors regardless of the situation. Being prepared for the weather is the adults job, let the children do the rest. 

 Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!

Read More

The Real Life Experience of Sensory Processing Disorder

By Alyssa Neudorf

The first question most people ask is, what is sensory processing disorder (SPD)? I would describe it simply as processing the entire world differently. A person who is partially sighted or hearing impaired will process the information coming to those senses in a different way from someone with typical vision or hearing.

What does this mean for me? As a person with SPD, it means that I process all the information coming to ALL of my senses differently, more intensely and all at the same time. Most people have the luxury of blocking out repetitive stimuli like the clock ticking, the clothes you are wearing, the smells in the air and, the chair you are sitting on while reading – this is not something I get to do. I am aware of everything all the time.

When all this intense and repetitive information becomes too much something called sensory overload is reached. Sensory overload can look and feel different for each individual person. For me, it is something that happens suddenly. I am fine until I am not. I begin to feel very warm, shaky, things start to dim around the outside of my eyes. My brain starts to try and leave my body making it very, very hard to speak or move without help. It feels like there is a tonne of bricks stacked on my vocal cords and the signals to legs are slow or blocked. Mentally I know I can speak and I can move but making that happen is very hard. It is at this point that a simple question, touch or surprise will trigger a meltdown. People will often ask “what do you need?”, or “what can I do?” The problem is at this point I don’t know and if I do I can’t always tell you. I can’t think and I feel frozen and stuck with everything spinning, flashing and pounding away around me all while becoming more intense. Then hyperventilation kicks in.

Sound exhausting and painful yet?

Having a schedule and routine helps me to plan out my sensory energy for the day. There is only such much I can do with 20 tokens and everything in your days takes different amounts. Getting dressed, eating, school, being social, going outside, tying your shoes, and taking the bus just to name a few. As a result, I can’t drive yet even though I would like to, don’t go shopping much, I wear certain clothing, most of my shoes don’t have laces (those that still do will be replaced with elastics), and I only wear specific socks. Clothes shopping is a big challenge and thus is avoided and is only done on a day when I don’t have to do anything else that day.

That is just a small window into the life of one person with SPD. It is different from person to person. Hopefully this article has helped you gain some understanding of what it is like to have SPD.

Read More