Alternative Learning Methods, Belief, and Just a Little Bit of a Miracle
Over the past year, everyone from politicians, teachers and parents have worried about the impact the various lockdowns have had on our kids learning. For SN families its been an…interesting experience, shall we say. For some children its been a complete nightmare – the loss of their usual routine has been devastating, while for others being removed from the distress caused by struggling through a system that just doesn’t meet their needs was liberating. Just like neurotypical individuals, our children each responded to the challenges of the past year in their own way.
For his part, the Dude just went with the flow as he always does. Sam is rarely one to get into a flap, my boy is wise beyond his years really, and while there is no doubt he missed his friends and teachers tremendously, he adapted far more readily than most adults! Something that none of us anticipated however, was the enormously positive impact that the past year would have on our little boy’s development. While there was much worry amongst adults about how so much isolation would affect our childrens social growth, my small person was learning and developing skills in new ways.
Something we did A LOT of this year however, was play board games together as a family.
If you’ve read or listened to my previous ramblings you’ll be very clear on my thoughts around my prowess at homeschooling... lets just say it is not an area in which I excel! Something we did A LOT of this year however, was play board games together as a family. No, I don’t mean monopoly or its ilk. I mean the type of board games that develop cult-like followings. King of New York, Pandemic, Catan, Survive; Escape from Atlantis… to name a few (if you don’t know them, look them up. They’re good). The difference with these are that they require you to make decisions; some use dice, others a card based. But the thing they all have in common are that you need to make choices. We thought nothing about this, other than we were all having a lot of fun – Sam adores board games, especially the ones where he can wipe out his parents playing pieces with a single move (King of New York), or where we have to work together to defeat a threat (Pandemic… strangely topical that one). The significance of these hours of fun spent together wasn’t apparent, until Sam returned to school…and everyone noticed the huge developmental leap he’d made in his cognition. His visual skills have surged – for a child with severe cortical visual impairment (registered blind) this is enormous. His communication has jumped forward too, as has his ability to make choices, express himself, and to understand cause and effect.
Our children are nothing short of miraculous. They will find their own path and their own ways to learn, in their own time. All we need to do is what we do best already… love them, play with them, and believe in them. The rest will come.