I am sure you have noticed that our favorite place to hang out is in the kitchen! Even the dogs get a look in. :)
This was us three days ago.... "I threw 3 oranges to Nick in quick succession and he caught them all. He had no way of catching the 4th, so I paused. I gave him time to think. I paused long enough for him to make a plan. He looked around the kitchen, spotted the juicer and then placed the oranges next to it. He then executed a perfect catch as I hurled the 4th orange across the room! #thepowerofthepause"
Sometimes the dogs drive us crazy by pinching oranges that have been dropped onto the floor. Or, if we are not quick off the mark, a carrot may mysteriously disappear from the fridge as I rummage around for something I need. I feel that the dogs add humor to our situation AND I also love to hear Nick say "ohno" when he sees one of them being naughty!!
I thought I would share a few (very short) video clips of a planned engagement that took place in the kitchen last week
First off, since we have already been doing a bit of baking, I decided to introduce Nick to the fine art of icing cookies. Now this is a brand new experience for my boy and believe me, he is always wary of anything new! Because this was a planned engagement, I had already put thought into the *edge plus one* concept and how I was going to approach it with Nick. I had decided on our roles (i.e. I stir, Nick stirs, I spoon, Nick spoons) and made a note to myself to be mindful of my language and to ensure that I slowed my pace to give him plenty of time to process, think and then react. I also put some limits in place. No screen or music distractions and only six cookies to work with. Having only a few cookies to ice ensured that I didn't drag the activity on for too long. I wanted the experience to be a meaningful and interactive engagement and not turn into being all 'about the task'.
I talk about my actions so that Nick is aware of what is going on. You will see that Nick moves away from me and all I need to do is pause the action and wait for him to realise that I would like him to move closer. (0:18 Nick tries to say cocoa!). I set up a nice co-regulatory pattern of us stirring the mixture. Nick has a good episodic memory of stirring, therefore is comfortable with the pattern. He is aware of his role and he can pace his actions with mine. He does have difficulty with sustaining the motion of stirring, however, I don't make an issue of it because the activity is about our interaction, not the skill of stirring! I also spotlight that what we are doing is easy... "this is easy".
We finish stirring the icing mixture and I can see that Nick is feeling competent with his role. I also feel that Nick is now at his *edge* of competence and I want to add in the challenge (the *plus one*). I talk about the cookies and we take a little smell. Before I get a chance to talk about the next step, Nick takes the cookie and places it in the mixture. He has never experienced icing cookies before so has no knowledge of what is going to happen next. To be honest, I do feel that I jumped in too quickly to scaffold the situation. I should have perhaps paused and waited to see what Nick would do next. As it is, I didn't give him a chance to *think* for himself. However, that is the beauty of capturing planned engagements on video. It is an opportunity to reflect on my guiding throughout the engagement and to celebrate the success or think of ways to improve the interaction.
I mention to Nick that I have done my cookie and he immediately goes into *finished* mode. This is definitely his *plus one* (challenge) and he is NOT feeling competent with his role. However, I don't react except to keep a positive expression on my face; and Nick decides to take his turn. I thought this was fab as Nick made his own decision to take a turn even though he was feeling a little stressed. I am happy with this particular clip, as it shows that I am taking it slow, spotlighting success and I am using declarative language to invite Nick to participate if he wants to. Nick arose to the challenge and I made sure that I didn't push him beyond his *edge plus one*.
You will notice (time code 0:17) that as I take a taste of the icing, Nick swiftly moves away from me. This is his general reaction if he thinks that he has to taste something new. I promise you that I have never tried to force feed my child! Hence the reason that we introduce new food very very slowly and don't make a big deal about it! We are now nearing the end of our planned engagement. I add a little scaffolding by pointing out to Nick that he missed a bit of the cookie. As he follows through with my suggestion, I spotlight how easy it is to ice the cookies. I then recap on our experience to highlight to Nick what we have achieved. You can see that he is attentive and nods his head every now and then to acknowledge what I have said. On occasion he looks out of the window, although all I need to to do is pause and he then reconnects with me.
To conclude ~ this is where we are at...
From my perspective I was mindful of the following;
I planned the engagement. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what I wanted to achieve.
Edge plus one ~ starting with a familiar pattern and then introducing something new that was *just a little bit* harder.
Pacing out the activity.
Pausing the action.
Giving Nick time to think for himself.
Declarative language... and not talking too much!
Spotlighting the important moments.
Giving Nick feedback about the activity at both the beginning and the end.
I thought that Nick did really well....
He referenced me for information.
Reconnected with me when I paused.
Stayed with me throughout the engagement.
Made his own choices.
Arose to the challenge of trying something new.
Aware of coordinating his actions with mine.
He was resilient, adaptable and willing to look to me for guidance.
As for the dogs..... there was one at our feet waiting to lick up any drops of icing mixture that accidentally fell to the floor! :-)