Do you ever see those 'What Would You Do?' shows that they have on TV? The premise is that they create a real life scenario with actors and see how unsuspecting people respond. Often times they involved ethical dilemmas such as someone mistreating a waitress, seeing children bully each other, etc. While my students may never make prime-time television, I like to go over 'what would you do?' with my students through discussion. By presenting them with an experience that they may encounter in their every day living, we can discuss various ways to respond and handle such issues.
Role play is a key component of learning. According to child development experts, role play helps children acquire all kinds of skills and knowledge, encouraging them to:
Think in the abstract
Acquire language skills
Build social skills
Understand someone else's perspective
Learn essential life skills from adults
Discover leadership skills
Safely explore the world beyond
Acquire confidence and a sense of selfIf that isn't amazing enough, consider this: because role play engages emotion, cognition, language, and sensory motor skills, scientists theorize it actually creates synaptic connections between parts of the brain. And the more synapses, the greater a child's intelligence!
In 2004 Fleet and Robertson wrote that play is the time when kids learn new ways to think and understand their world. Play helps kids learn to be problem solvers and kids learn to be resilient when they take risks and make mistakes. These first adventures, into being learners via play, typically happen for kids within the context of their family. Family play interactions offer kids the most optimal learning environment and can take advantage of unexpected teachable moments.
One thing to think about, in terms of this information is how to set up your family routine to ensure plenty of teachable moments and how to do this through play. Organizing a routine, consistent family game night is one strategy that can be applied.
There are many activities that can help a family grow closer together. A regular family games night, where all the family sits around the table to play games after the evening meal or for a lazy afternoon, is one way to provide this interaction. There are many benefits to setting aside a night each week as family game night:
Quality Time. The importance of spending quality time together as a family cannot be overstated. It is important for bonding, building relationships and improving communication.
Learning Opportunity. Children can learn many important things from family game night. Along with good sportsmanship and the importance of following directions, they can hone their communication skills, as well as testing and improving their agility and coordination skills.
Inexpensive Entertainment. A family game night is affordable. Games are generally inexpensive, last a long time, and can even be borrowed.
Healthy habits. Having a family game night is healthy. It is good brain exercise, can be good physical exercise (depending on the game being played), and keeps kids from simply sitting in front of the television for hours on end.
Fun factor. Family game time can be a time when the family has fun and laughs together, each week. That alone will help to create memories and good times! Suitable for all ages: Some games are suitable for young children. Many are great for adults or older children. There are also thousands of games for everyone to play together, from grandparents to infants. No one need miss out simply because of their age.
Does not discriminate against physical disabilities: Your physical skill level does not matter. Anyone can join in, as long as your brain is still working. You can even move the game into a sickroom or other location so no one misses out.
Provides varied entertainment: There are so many different types of activities that can be played, from card and dice games to board games (both commercial and free), parlor games, tile/domino games, pen and paper games and word games. No need to be bored playing the same game each week, unless you want to!
Builds strong character: Children (and adults) learn how to win gracefully and lose graciously. They learn to put others first when they decide to enjoy the game rather than just trying to win all the time. Winners and losers (and every other player) cooperating so everyone has a delightful experience.
Some people may look at me like I’m crazy when they hear how much I enjoy cooking and baking.I will sometimes be found creating something in the kitchen just to unwind after a long day.I blame my mother.She often had me right by her side in her kitchen when I was young and was always teaching and giving me little tips.She is a self-proclaimed neat freak and so I can look back now and appreciate her willingness to have me measure flour as it went every which direction or learn how to crack an egg.There are many benefits to bringing your child into the kitchen and cooking or baking with them.
Cooking with your child is a practical way to teach him/her valuable life skills, as well as academic skills like reading and math.Additionally, they also learn how to follow step-by-step directions in written and/or verbal formats.Time spent together in the kitchen encourages interaction and communication between parents and children and provides time to talk about important subjects; more specifically it is a wonderful time to talk about nutrition and healthy eating habits.Furthermore your entire family benefits from healthy meals, and your child feels a sense of accomplishment as they feel they are contributing to the family.
Try to introduce your children to a new hobby this evening; invite them into your kitchen!
Play is recognized as an important part of a child's development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.” Research also shows that play promotes sensory development, creative/artistic expression and language development. While playing children increase their knowledge and understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them. Through play, children learn the skills necessary to effectively participate in their world as they develop physically, linguistically, and socially.
Playing can help refine and develop a child's gross and fine motor skills. Running, jumping, throwing, as well as grasping toys and small objects all develop children's kinesthic awareness. As children develop the finely tuned skills in order to manipulate different objects increase as well as the opportunities to do so as organized sports become part of the child's repertoire.
Play is also important for the development of children's language skills. Children experiment with language during play and use words to express their thoughts and ideas. As children become more sophisticated in their play skills, their language development becomes equally sophisticated. Children use language during play to solve problems and to communicate their desires.
During play, children are provided with opportunities for social interaction with peers. Children learn the importance of social rules and how to get along with others through play. It is during this social interaction that children learn to express and control their emotions and to resolve conflicts with others.
As children are encouraged to explore and manipulate objects and materials in their environment, cognitive skills are developed and challenged. Children gain confidence as they experience fun and success in play. This increased confidence encourages children to further explore their world and to seek out even more challenging activities. Ideas and concepts expressed by children during play increase and become more complex as their play skills increase and become more complex.
There are different types of play that children can experience: solitary play, parallel play, social or group play. Ideally, by a certain age, children are able to engage in social or group play without assistance. For those that have difficulty, it is important that we create opportunities to do so and LEARN to do so.
Solitary play is simply that—play that a child engages in alone. The child is totally absorbed in the activity and is not reliant upon the actions or words of others. Examples of solitary play include an infant shaking a rattle in her crib and a preschooler quietly looking at a book by herself. Children of all ages engage in solitary play.
Parallel play differs from solitary play in that the child is observant of others. Children are engaged in parallel play when they play side-by-side, using the same toys and materials, but do not engage in social interaction. A child may notice what his peers are doing, but he will not directly attempt social contact. Parallel play is a common play pattern with children ages two to three.
Social or group play is commonly first observed during the preschool years or around three to five years of age. Group play experiences provide young children with opportunities to learn social rules such as sharing, taking turns, and cooperation. Most activities provided in a nursery school or preschool setting support social or group play in young children. It is during this stage that children begin to develop friendships.
If our goal is to produce well-rounded individuals that attain their optimal potential, then we need to encourage and provide our children with numerous exploratory play opportunities. Typically, play is not something we have to teach to young children but children with autism often need help learning how to play depending where they are on the spectrum.
Here are some tips from a parent on how to promote play in your child:
Here are some ideas for encouraging play and the desire for exploration in young children.
Observe your child: Spend time observing your child as well as typical children at play in a variety of natural settings. Note unique and common patterns of interaction and make a list of your child’s current fascinations and favorite play activities. Use this information to identify your child’s specific motivators; items, toys and games that are of greatest interest to use as enticements.
Mark playtime on the calendar: Parents need to be mindful of initiating play for children on the autism spectrum. It is helpful to schedule highly structured adult directed playtime into the daily routine. Whether your child’s play style is aloof, passive or active, finding opportunities to encourage play with you or typical peers will help foster spontaneous and reciprocal play.
Limit screen machine time: An excess of television, video games and computer can steal a child’s opportunities to expand their social, cognitive and language abilities through play and exploration. A child with Autism needs to interact with a live 3-D person, not a 2-D apparatus that requires little social communication. Dependency on screen technologies as a source of recreation needs to be carefully monitored.
Encourage daily outdoor play: As opposed to indoor play, playing outside places your child in different surroundings that offer unique possibilities for creativity and investigation. Both arenas are good for play but the outdoors has the added advantage of fresh air that is good for the brain. Outdoor exercise and activity is great for the body and combats obesity with the added bonus of giving your child a better night’s sleep. Natural wonders also have the added benefit of being soothing to the soul and the senses, which can reduce stress.
Create a home that is conducive to constructive play: If possible, transform small areas of your house into easy and safe play stations. Set up an area with developmentally appropriate exercise and sports equipment and consider adding a source of music nearby to encourage creative movement. Arrange an arts and crafts center that is user friendly and easily accessible to your child. Consider opportunities to occasionally convert a section of the kitchen into a science center.
Acknowledge the benefits of common toys: Choose toys such as blocks and dolls that encourage and stimulate a child’s imagination over passive toys that require limited mind participation. Consider making homemade, natural toys utilizing odds and ends that often get thrown out or recycled. Making toys from easily accessible materials such as this is a creative play experience in and of itself and one that you can do together.
Remember to play yourself: At what point in our lives did play become less important? Allowing yourself to play and have fun with or without your child is great self-care and is a quick way to melt away stress and put a smile on your face. It also sends the message to your child that one is never too old to play.
Appropriate behavior, social interaction, and academic success are all dependent on the ability to understand and follow verbal directions. Following verbal directions requires strong knowledge of basic concepts and the ability to process and retain auditory information. It's very challenging for anyone to remember verbal instructions. I know that when I'm trying to get somewhere, I absolutely need to write down directions someone tells me because I know I'll never remember all the steps required. Here are some tips for when you're giving verbal directions to your child at home:
Don't compete with music, video games, or the television when giving instructions. Turn these off, if necessary, to get your child's full attention.
Tell your child what to do - and then stop talking. Many parents continue to explain and elaborate, but this only distracts the child instead of allowing him to comply.
Break complex tasks into small, simple steps. Give your child a single instruction, and tell her to complete it and report back for another. If the task is an unfamiliar one, demonstrate how it's done.
When your child becomes adept at following a one-step command ("Turn off the TV"), try her with two steps ("Turn off the TV and put on your pajamas"). Praise her accomplishment, and slowly make your commands more complex.
Create a checklist of daily routines. Kids may need reminders to attend to routine tasks. A checklist will help your child operate independently.
For children who are not yet fluent readers, snap a photo - or draw a picture - to illustrate each step of a regular routine. Getting ready for school, for example, would include pictures of getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and packing a schoolbag. Post the pictures in the proper order to serve as a visual guide.
Make a game out of chores. Play your child's favorite song, for instance, and challenge her to put away her toys before it ends.
Inspect your child's work. Offer praise when he follows directions or tries his best. Reward deserving efforts with a favorite activity.
If your child gets sidetracked, gently redirect him. If you asked him to feed the dog but then found him outside playing basketball, say: "Remember, you're supposed to be feeding Beethoven right now. I'll hold on to the basketball, so you'll know where to find it when you're done."
After interviewing for an exciting employment opportunity, the young candidate was rejected, “When I asked for real feedback, the interviewer told me that although my job skills and education were a good fit, some of my table manners raised a red flag. The position entails many client dinners and I guess I had a few bad habits that they saw at meals during the interview process.” The candidate continued, “I would have loved to have been taught proper table manners by my parents. I feel at a real disadvantage, and I am quite frankly, embarrassed by my lack of manners.”
Sadly the situation the interviewee faced above is not uncommon. Competition is fierce for good jobs and seats in good universities. There are many more highly qualified applicants than positions. Polished table skills are a needed asset and social skill in this competitive culture.
Every parent wants to launch their children into the world with the skills they need to succeed. Equipping children with good table manners is an important lesson that all parents should want to give to their children. Using good table manners allows the focus to be placed on the conversation not on the act of eating. Having good table manners gives people the confidence to participate in any dining situation with ease.
Start introducing manners lessons slowly to very young children and add more refined lessons as the child matures. Consistency and repetition are very important when teaching children. Parents will have to reinforce the rules time and time again until good practices become habit. Remind children whenever a slip in manners occurs but don’t scold or nag.
Practicing good manners daily will eventually lead to mastery and manners will become second nature. As children develop fine motor skills, their use of utensils and glassware will improve. With constant repetition, by the early teen years, kids will have built up a comprehensive collection of manners which parents need only fine-tune for teens to be capable of attending the most formal of occasions.
For the well being of the children, even busy families should find the time to sit down together each evening for a meal. If dinner is impossible on certain evenings, families can sit down later in the evening for dessert; make sure to set the table and use dinnerware and utensils.
Teaching children the proper way to set the table is a perfect start for introducing the use of utensils, plates and glasses. Explain where each utensil is placed, what it is for, when it is used, and the correct way to hold it. Young children love being given a responsibility and will happily and proudly set the table each evening. Put placemats, napkins, silverware, plates, cups and bowls within reach of children to facilitate easy table setting.
Children do not learn proper table manners overnight. It takes years of repetition and consistent training to refine their skills. Parents have eighteen years to help shape their child’s table manners so there is plenty of time to patiently work with them. Expect lots of errors and missteps, use gentle guidance, never scold or embarrass, just kindly correct and continue eating.
The following is a list of table manners that your child should have a good grasp of:
Wash their hands and face before sitting down to the table.
Sit down in their proper seat and put their napkin in their lap.
Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and has been served. Many families wait until an adult gives permission to start eating.
Stay seated in their seats without wiggling in their chairs, going under the table, or getting up and down.
Say, “Excuse Me,” and ask permission to leave the table.
Mouths should stay closed while chewing and pieces should be bite sized.
“May I please” and “Thank you” should be used when children would like food and never reach across the table.
Participate in the conversation during dinner and no interruptions when other people are talking.
Slurping, burping, and squealing are all sounds that are not to be made at the table.
It is never kind or polite to make negative comments about what is being served for dinner.
Before getting up at the end of the meal say, “May I please be excused?”
Ask if adults would like them to clear their dinner plate.
Thank the cook.
Preparing children for adulthood starts the moment the baby is placed in the arms of the mother. Teaching children to use good table manners is a wonderful gift that will serve them well throughout their entire lives. Parents will be proud that their children are using the good manners that they have taught them, and more importantly children will be polished and refined and capable of being comfortable in any situation.
Did you know that some researchers are saying that emotional intelligence may be more important that IQ? That excites me because it means that I'm in a very significant profession! But what is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.
If you have a high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.
There are 4 branches of Emotional Intelligence
Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
There are 4 different levels on which people operate in dealing with emotions:
Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions
Reasoning With Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he's been fighting with his wife.
Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.
Emotional intelligence affects:
Your performance at work. Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EQ testing before hiring.
Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.
Though there is some debate over whether emotional intelligence can be developed and improved or whether or not people are born with emotional intelligence, I am believer in the former and see my job as a way to boost the EQ in each of my students every day!
First impressions can be very tricky, particularly for the child with autism. Studies show various statistics about how quickly opinions are formed within a first meeting of someone, but we can all agree that we've all had some memorable first meetings. I remember the first time I met one of my current students; he stuck out his hand and said, 'Nice to meet you, Miss Hackman'. Likewise, I remember another who went running down the hall saying, "I'll never listen to you!" (by the way, I'm happy to report that both are doing well). Though we've had memorable, good encounters since those first few moments, I can still vividly remember those initial impressions. That's why it's so important to help children learn socially appropriate ways to meet new people.
Every single time we have a lunch bunch get together my students are required to introduce each of their friends to me; even if they bring the same friend every week. This allows them to become comfortable introducing others. During social club they are able to get some practice introducing themselves in the context of a large group. These are great socially skills that they will use the rest of their lives.
Another skill that we often neglect teaching children is how to properly shake hands. Though I don't shake my students hands very often, I like to teach them how so they will know how. That way, when they will older, they will be able to confidently introduce themselves with a firm handshake. Did you know that some employers even judge perspective employees by their handshake? If I can give them a leg-up by teaching them such a simple skill then I'm game!
Once we shake hands, we often exchange names. To be honest, if you ask me 30 seconds later what the person's name is, I often can't tell you. I'll bet most of you are like me. Perhaps it's because we're taking everything in at that moment and making our impressions in our head. Lately, however, I've taken a special effort to incorporate using names in conversations more frequently and this always helps when making the name-person connection. Plus, people really like it when you use their name.
My father told me a story a few years back. A friend of his drove Oprah Winfrey to the airport. He stated that she was kind and friendly. A year later, he had the pleasure of driving her somewhere else as well. She remembered his name! That's impressive! I figure if Oprah can cue into a person so much that she remembers his name a year later amongst all the other people she meets, I can certainly do the same.
While conversing with others, how often do you find yourself drifting mentally or thinking about what you will say or respond with instead of what they person is actually saying? Guilty! I've done it too. But listening to what people are saying with their words and body is important. If people get the impression that they are not being heard or you don't care about what they are saying that could negatively impact their impression of you. Tune into what's being said. Create a 'brain video' by attaching imagery to their words and make connections with something that you may have in common with them. It'll impress them later when you can reference something that they mentioned in a previous conversation.
Because first impressions are so crucial to social interactions, I'll continue teaching these simple skills to my students and all children! Join me in helping our children go in with a bang and make a positive impact.
Thanks for stopping by! It was nice to meet you :-)
Ithink encouraging children to think aboutothers is one of the most important things adults can do for the next generation.A variety of skills arerequired in order to consider other peoples’ feelings and needs.When children think about otherpeople, they learn more about the world around them that extends beyond theirown wants and feelings; they understand that their actions impact others.One way to teach these skills isthrough community service.
Withbusy schedules we all have these days it is easy to skip out on community serviceopportunities, but there are a lot of ways that you can begin to teach altruismas a family:
Beginby talking about community service
Explainwhat community service is to your child.Talk about different types of jobs that they can do in their community.Talk about your experience(s) if youhave volunteered before.
Serveas a family
Decideon something to do to serve as a family.Try to reach a general consensus and serve along side each other.Think about some of the interests,gifts, and talents you possess as a family and see if any of those could beused. Depending on age, you could include your child in the planning andsetting up process.
Youcan choose to serve at a local organization or serve a neighbor, family friendor relative.Make sure thatchildren are allowed to volunteer if you’re going to serve at an organization.Sometimes local churches and places ofworship are a good place to get connected to organizations or individuals inneed.
If you cannot find a local charitythat accepts children volunteers or do not have the time to volunteer, considervolunteering at home. Many charities are in need of flyers to advertise eventsor need help stuffing envelopes. Other charities may allow you to create giftbaskets of food or clothing for them to deliver to families in need. Each ofthese tasks can be accomplished at home on your schedule. Just make sure totell your children what the project is for and who the project will benefit.Also, let your children be creative and participate in the process. Eventflyers and gift baskets don't have to look perfect; they just need to becrafted with good intentions in mind.
Do you remember the story of 'The Little Engine that Could"? The popular tale teaches us a lot about how important it is to think positively when completing a difficult task. I recently talked with a friend of mine who is training for a marathon and she found that when she tells herself, 'I made it this far, I can do it, just a little farther," she actually does much better than when she says, 'I still have a long way to go and my legs are getting tired'. While the latter statement may be very true, it doesn't offer much inspiration to continue to press on, does it? Self-talk has more power than we realize!
I've noticed that the same is true of my students. When I have a student who struggles in a certain area and he or she allows his/her anxiety to take over and allows self-doubt to creep in, the task becomes much more daunting and challenging. But when the student focuses on the positive, "I'm a hard worker. If I try a little at a time I'll soon be done, etc." he or she is much more open to new learning strategies.
In college we talked about 'self-fulfilling prophesy'. In some circumstances, if you tell yourself something long enough, you start to believe it and it becomes true. When I was in elementary school I was terrible at baseball type games. I dreaded when we played 'foam bat' at recess. I wasn't good - that's the truth. But telling myself repeatedly how terrible I was didn't cause me to get any better. It kept me stuck where I was. To this day, I am a happy cheerleader when baseball games are played instead of a participant. However, when learning a difficult, complex time step in my tap dance class, I kept practicing, imitating the rhythms I heard, focused on the hard work and the solution instead of how difficult it was. I kept telling myself that if I practiced I could master that step because I was a good, dedicated dancer. To this day I can bust out that time step at the drop of a hat.
In my opinion, one of my roles is to help build confidence in my students in the areas they struggle. They might always struggle in that particular area and might need to work extra hard for the rest of their lives and still never be able to consider that area a strength, but if I can give them a boost of confidence and diminish anxiety just a little, then I've taken one step closer to the goal line. Let's all help the team get closer to the goal line and encourage kind words, not only with each other, but with ourselves as well!