Tablet Tantrums

By: Crystal McNaughton

Does your child turn off the screen/IPad/tablet when you ask?  How many times do you have to remind your child to turn it off?  Maybe I’ll rephrase the question….how many times do you have to nag/yell at your child to turn off their tablet?  (or does this just happen at my house?)  Does your child kindly turn their screen off and easily move on to another activity?  Oops, rephrase again…What does your child’s “tablet tantrum” look like?

If your child does easily turn off their screen and calmly refocus themselves on something else, can you please call me?  Because I need to know your secret!

I have had many, many parents tell me about how hard it is to get their child to ‘transition from the tablet’ and explain how challenging their behaviors are after the tablet is gone.  I’ve witnessed it myself when I tell (okay nag) my kids to turn off their tablets, sometimes ending up grabbing it from them.  What usually happens is they scream, yell, or break down in tears.  Next, they start fighting.  The older one sits on the younger one.  The younger one bites the older one.  I’m left feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, as well as that good ol’ parent guilt for letting them watch their tablets too much.  If this sounds familiar to you, please know, it’s not just you.  It’s not just your child.  

There’s a reason behind the ‘tablet tantrum.” 

When kids are on a screen or tablet, it looks as if they are quiet, sitting, focused, and calm.  Actually, what is happening in their brains at this time is the opposite.  A number of neurochemicals are required to be in balance in our kid’s brains, and tablets and screen time can disrupt this balance. Video games or other gaming can create a release of dopamine, which feels good for kids, thus they always want MORE.  There is never enough.  

Next comes an adrenaline response, which is the ‘fright/flight/fight’ response.  The brain releases adrenaline which prepares the body’s stress response.  Psychological stress can also trigger an increase in cortisol; the stress hormone.  Take away the ‘feel good’ dopamine and we see a ‘withdrawal’ effect.  

So, we ask a child to turn off their tablet, and what we see is an angry person pumped full of ‘fight or flight’ energy.  A tablet tantrum. 

Now what?

There are recommendations for screen time.  I know things in this world are so stressful as it is, and I’ve definitely given my kids more screen time than I’d like to admit.  But I’m trying.  We’re all trying.  

If you want to check-in and see what is a recommended amount of screen time for your kid, take a look here:  https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Watching-TV-054.aspx

Taking away the tablet from your child will usually be hard.  But setting limits is important, as there will never be enough screen time if it were up to our kids.  Take a deep breath, and remind yourself, that you’re setting limits, you’re doing what’s best for your child by enforcing those limits and encouraging breaks from the screen.  If you want to make some changes, your Connecting Dots therapists are there to help you along the way.  Remember, we’re all here with you during those tablet tantrums.  

http://www.childassessmentandtraining.com/the-ultimate-explanation-about-the-great-screen-debate/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mental-wealth/201211/screens-and-the-stress-response

Getting the Cooperation of the Uncooperative Child Part 2

By Christine Marchant

There many ways a child will show you that he or she doesn’t want to cooperate. There are many reasons the child isn’t cooperating. Although it may be difficult to figure out why a child is behaving a certain way, it may be counterproductive to make assumptions regarding the motives of his or her behaviour. In the previous post I described how I responded to the volatile child that verbally attacked a CDF (child development facilitator) with everything he had in his skill box. These are the children that are the hardest to love and accept. They tend to push away everyone, which is sad because they really are in need of the love, smiles, hugs, acceptance, and guidance from an adult. In this post, I will describe how I respond to the child that runs away, or darts and hides. These children are difficult to communicate with because they resist by removing themselves from what they see as a threat. These children will refuse to participate in activities and often will climb railings, shelves, counters, tables, etc. Taking these children outside is a HUGE danger!

Communicating with these types of children takes a lot of quiet body and patience. It looks like you are doing what the child wants, but that’s because you are! You need to guide the child to do what you want him to do, and you do this by guiding him towards what he is interested in. If you only provide the activities that you want the child to do, and it’s something that the child loves, you will be able to engage him.

Bringing activities that the child loves isn’t going to be enough for these children because this can lead to them becoming rigid and manipulating you into doing what he wants to do, the way he wants to do it. The point of being a CDF is to be the one in charge of bringing the child along and developing a relationship and maturity. I am always talking about meeting the child on his level. This means going to where the child is always running to. If it’s in his bed, have the session on his bed. If he’s running to the top floor landing overlooking the family living area, you go there. If it’s under the table, you go under the table. I once spent half a preschool morning under a table, lying on my belly, watching the class mates and the child I was with help my hand the entire time. I didn’t make any demands, or have any expectations of him. We laid there watching the other children playing. When you go to their safe place, you will see why he choses it and you will get a better feeling for the ‘why’ he’s doing what he’s doing.

If you are working with children, this is where you start the session. As a parent, you are always keeping this goal in mind. The goal is to keep the child regulated and engaged. You want to continue building a relationship with the child and slowly move him from his safe place to a more functional area. This is the fastest way with the least amount of stress and fuss. This can take thirty minutes up to a month. When I have this type of child, I bring my picnic blanket. I place it in the child’s safe place. This is a bridge between the safe place and the place you are going to be. Change only 1 thing at a time. Change is a stressor for these children. Keep the location and the activity, and change the bridge.

Once the child is comfortable and eager to sit and stay on the blanket doing the activities he enjoys, you start to drag the blanket towards the new spot. Some will drag the blanket back to the original spot. You just calmly say, “It’s ok. It’s only a couple of inches, leave it here.” The child will usually accept it. Once the child is comfortable here, you drag it a couple of inches towards the new spot, and you just calmly reassure him that it’s only a couple of inches and it’s ok. Just keep repeating this. Always keep the activities fun and do what the child is engaged in. Keep the blanket, but the only change is the dragging of the blanket to the new place.

When you are doing this, you must remember that the goal is not the activities. The goal is to keep the child calm, engaged, regulated, and moving to the targeted area. When you finally get to the target area, you change the goal. Now the goal is to move the child up to the next level of play, or maybe speech, or social thinking. At this point, the child is now calm, trusting, and has a relationship with you. Keep the blanket and change the activity. You can do occupational therapy, speech, or just play or read on the blanket. The blanket has now become their safe place.

When the child is now engaged in the targeted goals, you will be leaving the blanket more often for longer periods. Eventually, you will remove the blanket. Sometimes the child notices it, but if you time it correctly, he won’t even notice and eventually, you just stop bringing it. This can be the tricky part. With the blanket gone, you must keep the activities fun and the child engaged. Don’t introduce an undesired activity while the child is transitioning to the new place. Make sure that the child remains calm, which may mean that you drop your expectations or demands on the child. If the child does start to get escalated, it is a good idea to keep his favourite toy or book nearby. It’s also ok to be goofy and make silly faces or engage in a lighthearted way that makes the child feel more comfortable. Regardless of the behaviour, every child is still just a child.

 

Getting the Cooperation of the Uncooperative Child Part 1

By Christine Marchant

I have been a mother for over 30 years and I ran a private day home for 20 years. I was also a nanny, a child development facilitator for 6 years, and worked one to one with many therapists on many specialized teams for helping children. I have observed that there are many ways a child will show you that he doesn’t want to cooperate. There are many reasons the child isn’t cooperating. In this post, I will list a few ways the child may behave, and a few reasons why he may be using this tactic.

Sometimes an uncooperative attitude or behaviour is anxiety, attention seeking, stress, or previously learned behaviour. We don’t know what is happening inside the child, so we do need to be sensitive to the “why” and not just assume our own reasons for this behaviour. Too often, I hear adults say things like, “oh he’s being bad,” “He doesn’t like me,” “That kid is a BRAT!” or “He’s spoiled!” When an adult thinks these thoughts at the onset of the activity, it taints their approach and reaction to the child. These children tend to get a bad reputation because it’s very hard to work with a child who refuses to cooperate, especially when he is VERY LOUD and negative in this refusal. Some of their behaviours may include yelling, screaming, throwing things, hitting, running away, climbing railings, darting away, knocking things over, hiding, kicking, swearing, or being very passive and just laying there and staring at nothing, or closing his eyes, humming, reading a book, playing with toys and not acknowledging your existence. This is a child’s way of saying that they want you gone.

The child is a child, and he doesn’t even know that he is resisting to cooperate. Often his mouth is being disagreeable, while his brain is saying “What is happening?” This is the vital turning point of the session. When you find yourself locked into a battle with the child, you are at the critical point where it will calm down and go positive or it will completely fall apart. The way you handle the situation will set the tone not only for the session, but actually for the rest of the time you work with that child. You need to take control of the situation and set the tone right away. If you are finding yourself in this battle, drop all expectations. Put your lesson plan away, look at the child, stop talking and just wait. If you have just walked in, just stand silently at the door. If you are in the living room or at the kitchen table, just stop. Don’t put anything away, because this may be a trigger and set the child off. Just slow your breathing, and stand silent. Your body should be prepared for anything, but on the outside, you look calm and passive. Count to thirty and keep your eyes on him! He may throw a toy at you, or dash up, kick you or run away. Answer any questions the child may ask, in a calm quiet voice. Do not use an overly sweet voice because kids see right through it. Just answer normally with as few words as possible. It sounds silly and wrong, but just spend as long as needed in that spot. One day, I spent the whole session standing at the front door. The child threw a fit and ran away screaming every time I showed up. I just stood there, the mom chased the child, scolding and threatening and cajoling, and bribing etc, which just made it worse. When he didn’t get attention from me doing this, he’d greet me with a disdainful “what are you doing here?” This moved into a blatant swearing fest, and saying “I hate you”. I would just sit silent, and he would try to flip the table and throw toys. I continued to remain calm no matter what happened.

Eventually, he would desire my attention. When he reached this point, I knew he was ready for my input. I then printed out my expectations for the session. I also printed out the consequences for the ‘unexpected’ behaviours. This was an older child. He understood natural consequences and the token system. The approach I took with this child is not the same one I use with another child. When working with these children, we must ALWAYS remember that this is a child. A child is a child, and we should not put our life stories onto them. They are not inherently bad or bratty. We stay calm, and allow them to come to us. I honestly don’t know why these children behave this way. I’ve had many of these children in my day home, because these are children that were kicked out of all the other day homes, and the parents hear through word of mouth that Christine takes on the difficult kids. I took in every child, with every type of issue, and I just accepted each one the way they were, an each one was an amazing child. I was also a nanny for years. Now that’s a job! I’ve had a child who sat at the dinner table, looked me in the eyes and put her feet on the table and said “so, you’re the new nanny. I’ll tell you right now, you will not make it to the end of the month, we’ve had 4 nannies fired before you, DON’T unpack your bags” this was said by a beautiful, blond, blue eyed 9 year old girl.  I worked there for a long time!

The point that I am making, is to meet the child at their level. This does not mean, that if the child swears, we swear, if he hits, we hit, or if he glares at us, we glare at him. It means that we put our lesson plans to the side, smile, and remain quiet and passive. I tend to do something while I wait. That one session I spent at the door, I literally did nothing. During another session with the same child, I sat at the table taking notes the whole session. I did not chase, follow, or try in any way to engage the child. I did not play with his toys in the hope that he would get curious and join me.

In the next post, I will share with you how I get the younger children who run away to cooperate. The one I described in this post was an older child, who was very volatile, verbally explosive, and aggressive. It took a long time but, my patience won the day. The child was such a little darling and sweetheart once he pushed through his block. The last time I saw him, he was a thoughtful, kind, and polite little boy. I was sad to move on.

Toilet Training Tips and Tricks

By Tammy Cheng

Toilet training involves many steps (discussing, undressing, going, wiping, dressing, flushing, hand washing) and it is a big skill to learn for a child. The secret to success is timing and patience.

Is it time?

Toileting training success depends on physical, developmental and behavioural milestones, not age. Many children show signs of being ready for toilet training between ages 24 and 36 months. However, others might not be ready until they’re 4 years old. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if your child is ready:

  • Can your child stay dry for up to two hours?
  • Does your child seem uncomfortable with soiled or wet diapers?
  • Can your child communicate when he or she needs to go?
  • Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
  • Can your child walk to and sit on a toilet for a few minutes?
  • Does your child have regular and predictable bowel movements?
  • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
  • Does your child seem interested in using the toilet or ask to wear grown-up underwear?

If you answered mostly no, you might want to wait. If you answered mostly yes, your child might be ready.

Ready, set, go!

When it’s time to begin potty training, follow these steps:

  • Get the equipment ready.Place a potty chair in the bathroom or, initially, wherever your child is spending most of his or her time. Make sure your child’s feet rest on the floor or a stool. Read story books with your child to teach them about potty. Use simple, positive language to talk about the toilet. Start with encouraging your child to sit on the potty in his/her clothes.
  • Schedule potty time.Include toileting training into the daily routine. Have your child sit on the potty or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes first thing in the morning, before bedtime, right after naps, as well as every 2 hours throughout the day. Allow your child to get up if he or she wants. Offer praise for trying and remind your child that he or she can try again later. To maintain consistency, bring the potty chair with you when you’re away from home with your child (i.e. camping, road trip).
  • Be ready any time!Keep your child in loose, easy-to-remove clothing. When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet (i.e.  “pee dance”, squatting or holding the genital area), respond quickly. Stop what you child is doing, take him/her to the bathroom, help him/her undress, and sit on potty. Try not to push for immediate results. After a few minutes, help the child with the rest of the routine and give praise for the effort or any successes they had. Help your child become familiar with these signals, and praise your child for telling you when he or she has to go. Consider using a small reward immediately when your child actually voids in potty. It is more effective when your child is intrinsically motivated.
  • Ditch the diapers.After a couple of weeks of successful potty times and remaining dry during the day, your child is ready for underwear! Celebrate the transition. Consider using a sticker or star chart for positive reinforcement.

Night-time training

Nap and night-time training typically take longer to achieve. It depends heavily on body functions, and it usually comes naturally as the child gets used to controlling the bladder throughout the day. Most children can stay dry at night between ages 5 and 7. In the meantime, use disposable training pants and waterproof mattress protector when your child sleeps.

Other tips:

  • If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn’t getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are he or she isn’t ready yet. Try again in a few months.
  • Accident happens. Never punish or shame your child for accidents. Stay calm, clean and change your child immediately. Be positive and reassuring that they will be successful.
  • Never force your child to sit on the toilet against their will or for long periods of time if they do not want to. This could set up a power struggle and negative feeling towards toileting training.
  • Plan toilet training for when you or a caregiver can devote the time and energy to be consistent on a daily basis for a few months.
  • For boys, it’s often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete.
  • Toilet training may best be accomplished by starting at home first, and then at child care.

When to seek help

If you have questions about potty training or your child is having difficulties, talk to your child’s doctor or Occupational Therapist. He or she can give you guidance and check to see if there’s an underlying problem!

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.

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____.

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.

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!

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.

The Importance of Indoor Play

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!

  1. Board games
  2. Scavenger hunt
  3. Make slime!
  4. Cook with your child (cookies, jello, rice krispies, or even prep for dinner)
  5. Read stories
  6. 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!