I really liked this and wanted to share it. As a teacher, I know first hand that repetition is a valuable teaching tool. As a parent, I can validate this further.
When I was an English Coordinator, I was privileged to trial and implement Pie Corbett‘s Talk for Writing. I am very passionate about Talk for Writing and may dedicate a post to it because, quite frankly, I have seen it help SO many children including those with SEN! I loved his message that children need input before they can produce. We ask children to write but we need to give them something to write about, get language into them and teach them about the ‘rules’ of different genres before we do.
Pie Corbett’s model is based on three stages…imitate, innovate and invent. The children have to learn a text by heart using symbols and actions, then they change one or more elements, then they create their own text using all of the tools they have learnt. I will definitely revisit this as I believe it is something all children should have access to, and more importantly, can access effortlessly.
The results were amazing! Utterly astounding!
Anyway, this article got me thinking about a conversation I recently had with my dad. It’s not completely related but here it is…
He said he felt bad because he hasn’t helped my son. I asked what he meant and he explained that he had perpetuated my son’s fixations and interests, and that maybe he should have encouraged him not to indulge in them.
As an example, my son loves, or loved, In the Night Garden. My dad always let him play a Night Garden app on his phone and watched the show with him. My son began to associate my dad with playing on his phone, specifically In the Night Garden. Earlier this year, my dad and I took the children to watch it live and he bought them some Night Garden keepsakes.
My dad somehow felt that nurturing these interests was wrong and only worsened my son’s ‘condition’.
I explained that he had done nothing wrong. He had instead respected my son’s interests and actually learned to share the experience with him, which was wonderful. They would sit together, snuggled up, watching the phone, and I had no issue with that. In fact, it warmed my heart to see their bond and interactions over this special interest.
My son often needs stories, television shows and apps to help him communicate. It’s all part of learning his patterns, and as I’ve said before, I’ve drawn on his memory of these things to create social stories and teach him how to cope with different situations. Although it takes a village to raise a child, I don’t expect other people to do this ‘teaching’, only to enjoy spending time with him and just let him be. Most of his little life is, and will centre around, having to learn patterns, fight his natural urges and step outside of his comfort zone to fit in. He deserves to just be himself around his family and I’m happy they all accept him for who he is.
By nurturing these interests, we enabled my son to feel secure in the familiar. We then used the familiar to introduce the unfamiliar.
As an example, he used to fixate on specific books. Five Minutes Peace and The Hungry Caterpillar were his favourites. His visual memory is amazing and he could regurgitate entire books by the age of two, including expression for the spoken parts. He can recognise some words in the context of the books and has even started adding his own bits in recent months. I digress again…we can talk about that more later.
Anyway, the point is…to introduce new books I had to use his obsession with the familiar. So…”Tonight, Mummy is going to choose a new book to read, but we will read your book first.”
At first, he struggled to accept the new…but over time this has become easier and easier.
I think this topic requires more research and discussion because what I am sharing here is merely from experience…not from reading.
I remember as a teacher I came across a child who was fixated on gold/yellow. We were advised not to let him always choose yellow…he had to have a different colour. This upset his little world. I didn’t enforce it because I found that by letting him have yellow, he felt comfortable and happy. I could introduce new colours once he was in that state.
This just seems logical to me!