By Christine Marchant
“Waiting for it” is a very important skill for the child to achieve. It’s a developmental skill that comes with the child growing and opening up to their environment and expectations. For those children who are developmentally not able to “wait for it”, we teach this skill slowly and in little steps, just like we teach everything else.
Telling a child to “wait a second!” or “wait a minute!” doesn’t work. If it did, we wouldn’t be in this situation. I like to teach this skill through games.
I pick their favourite game and make “waiting for it” the goal. It doesn’t matter what the game is, as long as it’s their favourite. First, I explain the “rules” to the child. “When it’s our turn, we will count to five before we play.” Waiting will be difficult for the child at first, so start with the lowest number. I like to count out loud. I tap my fingers on the surface of the table or area that the activity is being held. If the child doesn’t understand this, and is still reaching for the activity, I usually place 5 pieces of paper or cards with the numbers 1-5 on it. I flip each card over and say the number. This shows the child time is passing by. The child could still be in the concrete stage and cannot grasp the abstract idea of time passing. I use A-B-C-D-E for the child that is obsessed with the alphabet. If numbers don’t mean anything to the child, use cats, cars, shapes, etc. Anything that catches the child’s attention so they are looking at the cards and counting out the five seconds. We want the attention on the time passing, and they are doing something while waiting.
This is important! Do not make the child “sit quietly” for this target. The target goal is not playing the game or sitting still, it is to recognize that we are waiting for five seconds and this is what it feels like. To show the passing of time, I like to start off with the actual ‘visual’ and ‘audio’ but wean them off of it as they grow and develop. I go from counting out loud, to counting silently. As they develop, I extend the five seconds slowly to as far as 30. Eventually they can watch the timer and by the end of this goal, they know that they are able to transfer this skill to wait patiently to all the other areas.
One of my children a few years ago couldn’t hold still even for five seconds. So, I had him jog in one place for the count of five. Then we moved it to holding the table edge, jumping up and down counting to five. Then it was standing at the table, marching, then sitting on his bum, stamping his feet, etc. Eventually, he was sitting on his chair, rapping out the numbers. It took several MONTHS, but at the six month mark, he was able to wait a full TWO minutes! Quietly with his hands on his lap! At the end of the six months, I would put the timer on for two minutes and he would sit patiently while I “wrote” my notes or “read” my book. I would say, “Here’s the challenge: I’m going to read my book for two minutes and you will sit quietly and patiently.”
This was a very important skill for everyone to learn. There’s a fine line between waiting for your needs to be met, and passively not advocating for your needs. When the child is tiny and learning, we meet their needs immediately. As they grow and mature, we must teach them how to know when to wait and when to advocate for themselves. It is our job to teach and support the child as he is learning to advocate for his needs while learning to wait for his needs to be met.
Another example of teaching this skill is when I had a little boy who was non-verbal and had a global delay. He couldn’t count because he was non-verbal and had absolutely no clue of what we were saying when we introduced him to numbers and letters. This little Bobby was always given whatever he wanted immediately. Little Bobby wasn’t given the skills to manage his frustration or disappointment when he was denied anything he wanted. His behaviour was violent! I worked with him for 9 months and he was finally able to understand “wait for it”. The method I described earlier, did NOT work for him! This little Bobby needed a whole different approach. I’ll share with you how I managed to give him the skill of “wait for it “ in another post.
There are SO many different approaches and styles of teaching. No one way is the correct way and the only way. The most wonderful thing about this job as a child development facilitator is that everyone is allowed to be their own authentic self and interact in their own individual style.
By: Lisa Montgomery
Physical Activity is very beneficial for both children and adults. Regardless of whether a child has a disability or not the benefits of physical activity are very important.
In Canada, many sport facilities and Sport Groups follow the Long Term Athlete Development Model. This model starts with Awareness and First Involvement to Learn to Train on the child side. From Learn to Train it goes through to Train to Win or Active For Life. It is very important that children are exposed to movement fundamentals so they themselves can have a desire to learn more and progress through the stages. For more information on the Long Term Athlete Development Model please go to: https://sportforlife.ca/long-term-development/
Benefits of Physical Activity For Children Include:
- develop cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, and bone density
- maintain a healthy body weight
- reduce the risk of chronic disease and health problems
- lessen the likelihood of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use
- feel better every day, through improved mental health and well-being
The recommendation is 60 minutes physical activity per day. This is something that can be broken down into smaller increments. I often hear parents saying…I just don’t know what to do. Some excellent websites include:
- Youtube has many great resources such as Cosmic Yoga, Paw Patrol exercise and many others. By googling physical activity or songs with “activity” you will come up with many ideas.
- Pinterest also has many games that be incorporated into activity. For example, snakes and ladders but with yoga moves, or action words, or other physical activity movements
- You can use a deck of cards and make queens one thing, hearts another, etc… it really is up to your imagination as to what you can do
- One example can modify – https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/240379698849607295/
- Going for a walk through the house or outside and playing I spy, or making a scavenger hunt can make a walk long way.
- Going on a bear hunt…. https://youtu.be/5_ShP3fiEhU
- Use the above song but change the words to whichever activity/feeling you’d like to use
By Christine Marchant
If you have read my previous posts, you’ll notice that I have a system for teaching 5-W-H questions. Levels one through three deal with concrete who, what, where, when, why, and how questions, while level four is concerned with asking the child about what can happen in the future. It’s quite easy to teach the first two levels. When the child becomes more aware of their world, and isn’t easily entertained by the simple flash cards or photos, the teaching becomes more challenging. I find that they are now more interested in the games. I like to try plenty of new games to test the child’s interest and to see if the game will match the goal. We play the game at least three times with no target goals. This is how I build the interest and desire to play the game. The goal here is to create a strong desire to play the game. At this level, it’s the game and the interactions with the people that keep the child involved and wanting to cooperate. It doesn’t matter what the game is, as long as you explain to the child that the reason you are doing the sessions is to help the child achieve the targets. Hopefully, at this level, you’ve already created a relationship of trust and honesty. This is my favorite level of the relationship with the child because they are opened enough to actually understand why you are spending the time with them. They are usually enthusiastic about achieving their goals. I explain to the child that we play the game with no targets and then when we really enjoy the game we add the targets.
While playing the games, I use a LOT of WE, US, OUR, and TEAM WORK language to motivate the child and let her know that we are working together. The language you use will determine the attitude of the child. They LOVE to take ownership of their learning. By this level, they seldom resist doing their “work.” The games are now a fun way to make the sessions go faster. They may MOAN and GROAN or ROLL their eyes, and declare “you’re the meanest aide EVER!!” BUT, it’s all said in laughter and good cheer. If you have a good relationship with them, you play along, then say, “OK! Let’s get down to business, and get it done. ” If you don’t have a relationship with the child and are just jumping in, don’t start at this level!! If I were to start teaching the 5-W-H without knowing the child, I would ALWAYS start at a lower level and see where the child is, then move up the levels, in the same order, at the speed that matches the child. This level is based entirely on trust and a relationship with the child.
Teaching what happens after is the trickiest part for children because it requires abstract thinking. It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future. The future is difficult because it can be any possibility. The past now seems more concrete than the future because it’s easier to prove. If you have one of those children that LOVE to argue and declare that a dragon has super powers and can possibly run for government in the future, LET IT GO!!!! Don’t argue with the child, but try to remember the goal! At this point, the goal is opening their minds to future possibilities, not to debate what the future actually can be (natural consequences will take care of that). Here is my method:
1) Find books and tons of photos that show a ton of details. I use books, flash cards, random photos, even advertisement photos.
2) Bring out their favorite game and lay the photos beside the game.
3) At this level, the child already knows the expectations.
4) Start the game. The first player looks at the picture and describes what she sees. This is important because this gives the story as they see it. It’s concrete, so use concrete language like “the people are in the boat”, “the dog is in the water”, or “the waves are huge”.
5) All the players look at the picture, then agree or disagree with the player’s description.
6) The player then says what the possible future may be. Using the language, “I think the waves will push the boat over”, “I think they will rescue the dog”, or “I think the people in the boat will be beamed up by aliens”. It doesn’t matter what the child says. The goal is not to correct the child’s idea of the future. The goal is to have the child be flexible in their thinking. If it’s dark, you can leave it, or have your version of the future when it’s your turn. Do NOT correct the child during their turn. It’s their turn and you can damage the relationship if you are constantly correcting the child on their turn. Save that for another goal, at another time.
7) When the child is finished predicting, the turn is over and they take their turn playing the game. Often by this level, the interest can be more into the predicting than playing the game. If the child wants to go on and on with their predictions, let them because the game is not the goal. This does not go on for hours. Whenever you choose to teach a target, you choose the system and how long it will last. You can set the expectation as an open ended game, which is with a timer, or closed ended one, which is with the number of turns.
8) I alternate between the open and closed ended. We seldom ever finish the game at this level, which is not a big deal.
9) Never let the game go for more than ten minutes for the very young, and fifteen for the older children. Put on the timer, and when it goes off, you say, “Do you want the game to be over?” or “Do you want to play for another ten or fifteen minutes?”.
10) If they choose game over, you can smile and say it was a fun game. If they choose to play, set the timer. If they want more, you tell them that you will play it at the next session, and then keep your word.
This is the end of sharing how I teach 5-W-H questions. In the future, I will share the different approaches I take. The system always stays the same, but the approach and materials change. As I said in earlier posts, I’m not a therapist or have formal education in teaching. I am a mom for thirty-one years and have lots of experience with children from parenting and running a private day home for twenty years. I was also a nanny in between and during doing those jobs. I have also been a child development facilitator for five years. I hope you enjoyed my posts, and found at least one tip to help you teach the 5-W-H questions!
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.
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.
- Building Social Skills
- Being Creative
- 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 adult’s job, let the children do the rest.
Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!
By: Simran Saroya
Sometimes we feel that it is easy to hand our children the iPad or phone to keep them occupied. Even on a snow day or a rainy day there are ways to make these situations positive interactions. Giving them a phone or tablet is easy but not the most interesting choice for your child. Indoor play can consist of more stimulating, fun and active play that will help your child’s brain develop.
When we think about indoor play, we talk about roleplaying, games and engagement opportunities. If you are baking cookies, having the child present and engaged is a form of play for them where they can use their senses and create something new. When thinking about play we should consider all five senses: look, listen, touch, smell and taste. Where can my child use these five senses with me?
Through play children are able to create healthy brain architecture which allows them to have better peer social interactions, use their imagination and creativity and engage with the world around them. Play is so important for children; it is the foundation to all the learning that is going to happen here on forward. Play can also strengthen physical, emotional and cognitive strength within the child.
Now indoor play, how do you play inside on a rainy day or a day where the outdoors is not easily accessible? Here is a list of things you can do indoors with your child!
- Board games
- Scavenger hunt
- Make slime!
- Cook with your child (cookies, jello, rice krispies, or even prep for dinner)
- Read stories
- Visit an indoor play place (Telus Spark, Glenbow, swimming, Calgary public library)
Let your child take the lead and have them decide what they would like to do indoors with you or with a friend. This way the child feels a sense of independence in choosing an activity or game. Children create and preserve friendships through play therefore indoor and outdoor play are both essential in a child’s growth and development.
Understanding the benefits in your child’s play can be a bit confusing. Play fosters cognitive growth meaning that is essential for healthy brain development. Sometimes we believe that play must have a goal behind it, a structure to it. In reality, free play positively affects neurological connections by making those circuits in the brain stronger. Free play will allow your child to build communication skills, self-confidence and intelligence. Through play children become less anxious and more resilient to deal with real life situations. Once the adults in the child’s life understand how important it is to play, the child will benefit and the adults will benefit. Promoting play as quality time spent indoors will strengthen your relationship with your child and allow for meaning making and a world of connections to be brought to the table. It is amazing what their little minds can come up with!
By: Stephanie Magnussen
At Connecting Dots, the therapists are skilled at creating play based learning activities based on the individual child’s needs. When learning is play based, the child looks forward to sessions with the therapists and this excitement makes it easier for the child to be engaged in the activity. Based on each individual’s contract, the therapists will work with the child a few times each month. I work as an aide, and am therefore with the clients and families multiple times a week, enacting the therapists’ and family’s goals through creative and play based approaches. I was looking for a game for one of my clients that promoted long sentences, complex ideas, and smooth speech when I found Story Cubes. Story Cubes are affordable and fun and have been working really well with my clients!
Story Cubes are a set of nine, six-sided dice that have an image on each side. Each player rolls three to four dice at a time and has to create a story based on the images. When I use it with my clients, I have a sheet of paper next to us that has the important elements of a story: Plot, Setting, Characters, Conflict, Solution, and Theme. Based on the developmental goals of the child, theme is optional to include as it can be abstract. In the first roll, player one must create the setting and identify the main character. The second roll introduces more characters, and expands on the plot. The conflict is introduced between the second to fourth roll and the solution is achieved in the fourth to eighth roll. Of course there can be as many rolls as one likes, but I find that kids can get distracted by too many details, and the stories make more sense when there are six to eight story turns total. After ever two turns, I refer back to the piece of paper that has the list of important story details and the child recounts what has happened so far and identifies each of the major components of our story. If I am trying to promote smooth, clear speech with my client, I keep a tally of all of the smooth sentences that are over eight words that my client has said. I involve the client in this, so it isn’t anxiety provoking for him or her. I’ll say things like, “Wow! That was a really smooth sentence! I think you should make a tally on the smooth sentence side,” or “Take a deep breath before you start your next sentence because it is going to be a long one!” After a few sessions, I can see the progress of smooth versus bumpy sentences during story cubes when comparing the smooth vs. bumpy tallies. For older children and when appropriate, after the game is finished, I ask what the theme of our story was. It is always so interesting to see how creative kids can be and it makes for more speech opportunities to give the client the chance to describe the theme.
Story Cubes have been a great tool to use with my clients because it also allows them to be creative and silly. It promotes organized thinking because although it is a free flowing game, certain components of the story have to be identified by certain rolls. Also, the child can’t just create a nonsensical story. I make sure to check in with him or her after ever two turns so that they have a clear understanding of what is happening in the story and what needs to happen to reach a resolution. I make sure to remind each client before his or her turn to take a breath and think about what they are going to say and how each story cube will relate back to the story itself. This has been a great game for kids that are having trouble expanding on ideas, creative writing, are exhibiting non fluent speech, or need help organizing their thoughts or with memory. I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but there are lots of options on amazon.ca as well!