Last night I wrote a post titled ‘No School?! No Panic…’, about how I don’t think parents should feel any pressure to mimic school or set up super ambitious schedules for learning at home during these times of school closures, social distancing, and isolation. If you haven’t read the post yet, you can find it HERE.
At the same time, I do see many parents worrying about what their children might be missing out on, and I can especially relate to those whose children have additional needs similar to our Penguin’s. I too have felt the same worries (though more so when our boy was younger) about regression, about losing skills, and about not gaining new skills or abilities at a good enough pace (whatever that may be…). Worrying that there could be something more we should be doing to help our child.
I used to trawl the internet (as well as read books, watch webinars etc) to gain more knowledge about how to better support our boy. And I’ve been able to put quite a lot of what I’ve learnt into practise in our homeschooling, as well as before then when I was working with our son in school and at home. Also, when Penguin was younger, we were lucky to receive almost three years of regular coaching by a team of therapists. And although I often felt their support lacking in various ways (hence my searching elsewhere to learn more), those therapists did a great job in empowering parents and encouraging their ability to help their own child learn and develop.
When I first started this blog, I was hoping to pass on some of all those things I’d learnt to other parents of children with similar needs to our Penguin’s (autistic, nonverbal, learning disability). And I wanted them too to feel empowered and confident in supporting their child’s development.
Back then, when I was writing my first ever blog posts, we had just started homeschooling (or home education as it’s often called, to perhaps better reflect that it’s usually quite different from recreating a typical school setup at home). And I hadn’t yet realised then how much Penguin had been affected by stress, and what a positive effect it could have on him to cut back and slow down.
There is so much I could go on to say about these things, but this post is already getting long enough, so I’ll leave the rest for future posts and just get to the point:
The current situation (with the school closures due to the corona virus) is making me adjust my focus, and it’s bringing me back to my original aim of empowering parents to take a more active role in their children’s development. You are NOT their teacher and you are not a professional therapist, but I’m convinced that a parent can often be just as good or even better at supporting their child in developing their abilities!
And as I said yesterday, good learning is most likely to happen when the learner is happy and relaxed, so finding activities we can ENJOY together with our children should be a priority. This also goes along with the keywords of ‘Respect, Motivation, Passion’ that I chose when first setting up this blog.
So my aim now, in this current situation, is to keep on sharing about life with Penguin and various activities we get up to etc, but with a clearer focus on learning differences/Learning Disability, autism, severe communication difficulties (as in being nonverbal/minimally verbal), as well as sometimes touching on the ‘challenging behaviours’ which often occur in combination with these neurodevelopmental differences.
This is likely to mean more posts involving things like:
- Occupational Therapy (for motor skills, life skills, sensory etc.)
- Hands-on learning activities, experiential learning, learning through play
- Sensory processing, sensory activities, ‘sensory diet’ etc.
- Communication, AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication) etc.
- Play therapy and similar approaches
- Music therapy and other music-related activities and their benefits
If you know anyone else who might like some support in becoming more confident at incorporating aspects of therapy and learning into everyday life at home with their child, please feel free to share this post with them.
I’m not an expert in the professional sense. But I’ve become an expert in MY child, as I suspect you are in yours. And if your child is in some ways similar to mine, I really hope that we can support each other in helping our children live as happily as possible, first and foremost in the present, but also with an eye at years to come.
Thank you for reading, and stay safe x