At this time of year when teaching life science, it is fun to see the interest our students have in the workings of the human body. We study each system of the body and observe how all systems are integrated with one another. Our students enjoy learning about the body's processes and relating those processes to their own strengths and challenges. When a student can relate our lessons to their own experiences, it makes the knowledge that they take from the lesson so much more meaningful.
-Kelly Reilly, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Now that the weather is getting nice, students are more able to take advantage of playing outdoors! The benefits of outdoor play reach far beyond just enjoying the nice weather. Students can benefit physically, mentally and socially from spending time outdoors. Physically students can increase their muscle strength, coordination and flexibility. It will also help to improve body awareness, motor planning, endurance and motor skills. There are also many social benefits to outdoor play. Students can engage in symbolic play which in turn helps strengthen their social skills. It also helps them learn conflict resolution and collaborative play with peers, while greatly increasing their self-esteem. Students also benefit mentally. As they work out their "problems" in a fun, relaxed, play time situation, they are better able to handle them as they come up in other areas of their life. This leads to an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem. Outdoor play is good for everyone, not just students!! Spending time together outdoors as a family will have all of the above mentioned benefits, plus the added bonus of family time!!
-Amy Keveanos, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
The Power of CHOICE!
Ever find yourself in a power struggle with your child or one of your students? You’re not alone!
All human beings crave control, and kids (especially those with special needs) often don’t have a whole lot of control in their lives. They’re processing their worlds differently, in ways that can be overwhelming and scary at times. Their bodies may not allow them to motor plan the way they’d like. They may have challenges communicating and advocating for themselves. Not to mention, between school work and all their extra therapies, they spend a lot of time following directions and being told what to do.
This is one of the reasons we may see our kids refuse to do what we want at times, or even do the exact opposite! They are taking a stand and seeking a sense of CONTROL-- which after all is an important and basic human need. So how can we compromise and painlessly reach a common goal?
One easy trick that I’ve found to be super effective in my classroom is providing CHOICES! I find myself in way less power struggles when I hand over some of the control within my control.
For example, instead of saying “Write your name on your paper”, try asking “What color marker do you want to write with?”. Or when you’re at the park and it’s almost time to leave (and you know your child probably isn’t going to be happy), you could put the ball in their court by asking “How many more pushes do you want on the swing before we leave? 10 or 20?”
I’ve really seen it make all the difference with many of my students. It helps develop respect and trust between you and the child, while giving them a sense of control. It helps strengthen their sense of self and allows them to feel like an important and equal participant in their interactions.
I really urge you to try it (if you aren’t already). As with any change, it might be an adjustment at first, rethinking the way you talk to your child or student, but after a while it becomes second nature and you’ll realize you can rephrase almost anything in a way that provides the child with a CHOICE and sense of CONTROL.
-Nikki Squillante, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.