TODAY WE WERE celebrating small victories. The other day I posted about learning challenges and and the webinar that I watched. Learning and learning challenges are all brain driven. I'm sure you're thinking, "yeah, no kidding!" But if the brain isn't firing quite right things don't get through and children don't always "see" the same things that you're seeing. Case in point, while my oldest was going through occupational therapy there was a day that he was presented with a simple activity. What happened was fascinating to me. He was asked to recreate parallelograms and other shapes with stirring straws. What was created by the therapist was to be copied by my son. There were several examples that he could just not recreate. Not only wasn't he able to copy them, he argued that what he created was in fact the same as what the therapist had made with the straws. He was visualizing something completely different from what was in front of him. I was amazed. It never occurred to me that when I was asking him to do something what was "going in" wasn't always what I meant or intended.
I think that many parents of children with learning challenges don't even consider what it's like on the other end of the learning spectrum. As parents and teachers, we put forth the curriculum and it makes sense to us and we expect that through our explanation it makes sense to them. At least I did. I would go over and over things and only to be frustrated because, "He's just not paying attention" among other things that I thought. When you, yourself don't have a learning challenge or maybe you do, but instead of getting the help you needed you just chalked it up to "I'm just not good at ______" (you fill in the blank). You don't even consider that they may just not be comprehending what you're asking. This was all BREAKING NEWS to me. I felt terrible about what I thought and even, how at times, I behaved when faced with challenging moments.
There are so many developmental things that go into learning. Physical things that most first time parents don't know. I also don't think that parents are educated well on how important these things are. Like crawling for example, it is so important for a child to crawl as a baby. It works both hemispheres of the brain and helps with learning things like reading when the child gets older. Playing in general is so important! Physical activity. Using the big muscles. All these things help build pathways in the brain and help the learning process.
So getting back to small victories... Today my seven year old mastered the monkey bars. You may not think that's a big deal, but let me tell you why it is. Being able to swing and control your body is a BIG brain builder. When I was doing occupational therapy with my oldest some of the activities he had to master was swinging and controlling his swinging. Some times he had to swing on a platform and swing in a clockwise motion. Controlled and steady. Then other days he had to do it counter clockwise. On other days he had to sit on a seat on a rope swing and swing in a circular motion and while tossing bean bags at a target. All these activities required control of ones body and they are all brain building activities. Often times I would take "school" outside and do it on the trampoline or on the swings in our backyard. I would read-a-loud or he would recite math facts, etc. while he was able to move. Amazingly enough he was able to concentrate and accomplish lots while doing these things and having the freedom of motion. Sitting on an exercise ball while doing school work can work wonders too!
So the next time you feel frustrated or like your not good at teaching, get curious. Maybe there's more going on than you think. And celebrate those victories!! They are important!!
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