It may *look* like I am training my boy to be a fabulous cook who cleans up after himself; and of course these are great skills to have. However, what I am actually doing is choosing activities in which to engage with Nick. Each activity is a prop that provides opportunities for me to guide him from a developmental perspective. The by product is that he also gets to learn something new!!
* Note: Nick does not *play*, therefore the use of chores works for us at this current time. Nick also seems to be really interested in cooking so I like to encourage this interest.
When planning an engagement, I take into account the following steps;
What are our roles?
How can I guide Nick to ensure that he is operating on a conscious level?
What style of language is needed to encourage *thinking for himself*?
What is his level of competence?
What is the next step that will take him just beyond that level of competence?
For interest sake I thought I would share three *very short* video clips.....
For my planned engagement I decided to focus on peeling a vegetable. Due to Nick's motor planning issues this is very difficult for him! However, remember *it's not about the carrot!*
I decided that I would peel a carrot and talk about what I was doing. I would also take it slow and give Nick the chance to absorb what was happening. His role was to take a turn peeling the carrot... and sure enough he realised what he needed to do. Please note that Nick was very relaxed and he only needed a little bit of scaffolding with how to hold the peeler. After he had successfully peeled one piece, I made sure to spotlight what he had done and then we stopped.
Why did I stop? I could see that Nick was comfortable with the challenge that was presented, therefore I decided to add another little challenge. Dr Gutstein calls this "edge plus one", which means that you take the child to the edge of his competence and then you take him one more step.
In the second clip I am still using a carrot, although this time I decided that we were going to *cut* the carrot. I wanted to give Nick the opportunity to think for himself, so I think out loud "what can I use to cut?". I purposely don't want to tell Nick what to do and I certainly don't want to tell him that he has chosen the wrong utensil. With a few declarative comments he realises that the scissors are not going to work and he indicates that the scissors are for cutting hair! I then thought it best to add in a bit of scaffolding and offer up the knife!
You will see that Nick recalls the previous pattern of peeling the carrot and he tries to do the same with the knife. I don't want him to become stressed over the fact that he is battling with the carrot, therefore I scaffold the situation and we cut the carrot together. When I decide to stop the activity, I make sure to spotlight that we "did it!".
Due to the fact that the carrot was too hard to cut, I decided to go back a step and bring in a cucumber, which will be easier to peel and then cut. This added a variation to our activity, although we were revisiting the now familiar peeling action. This is another *step* for Nick. You will see that Nick is very focused, although he is starting to speed up his actions. I sense that he has reached his edge of competence plus one; and if I want him to remember this engagement as a positive experience, then I need to finish up. I make sure to spotlight that he successfully peeled a piece of cucumber.
You will see in all three video clips that we both had our own roles to play and that Nick understood that he also contributes to the engagement. He trusts that I won't push him too far, therefore he is also a willing participant. I offered him opportunities to *think* for himself and also provided scaffolding where I thought necessary.
Nick watches me carefully and is very aware of coordinating his actions with my actions. At no point does he feel under pressure to perform. He is by my side because he wants to be with me. We have lots of lovely co-regulatory patterns happening and we take our time, quietly and calmly, guiding and being guided.
I hope that this makes sense! I have a lot more information to share regarding the above video clips and our planned engagement, however, this post is getting far too long.
Just a wee reminder ~ it's not about the carrot!! ;)
Oh yes.... if you have any ideas for our next step, just toss them my way!