It has been a dream of mine for a long time to create an online service at The Little Explorers Activity Club so we can help many more families through our approach. Now, with the Covid19 Pandemic it has become vital that we take the time to develop this support for families in their own homes so they can apply our methods.
With a grant from the Leicestershire County Council Communities Fund this dream has become a reality. I’m delighted to announce that for families that live within Leicestershire, the 30 page E-Booklet is free of charge. To receive your free E-Booklet email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The power of flip thinking has turned the tragedy of the Pandemic into something that will inspire and support families around the world.
We are trying a new way of auctioning Iris’s Paintings this month, it will be done by a ‘sealed bid/silent auction’ where the buyers will kindly submit their highest bid in one email rather than bidding as the week goes on. I want to adjust our system as the interest in her paintings is so widespread around the world that this seems to be the fairest way to conduct the auctions to fit in with everyone’s time zones.
‘Hiatus’ is painted on thick watercolour paper with many layers of acrylic. It has also been dry mounted onto board and will be sold unframed. If you are bidding from abroad we have a brilliant International Courier Service which we have used to send her art safely to it’s new home in the past.
Iris has been working very hard over the past few weeks on her new home ed project documenting life with her animals. She has also narrated the film. This project was created with her own interests at the core, it has improved her confidence while recording her voice and built on many skills as we worked together creating the film. I have a feeling this will be the first of many as she has really enjoyed making this one with me.
I hear you even if you do not speak. I watch, noticing the details, see and feel more than I ever imagined I could. I stopped focusing on what was hard, I stopped pushing those things that frustrated you, aggravated or even blocked your learning. Together with the help from our animals, you are learning to use your voice.
We have learned how to be with each other without needing these words and I feel that has helped you, the pressure was lifted. I am so proud of you for creating this video with me and sharing it with others, to inspire them to give their children the space and time they need too. x
Reading can take a lot of energy, as adults we take it
for granted but for kids that are learning this new skill it can be exhausting
so go at their pace, little and often is key.
Follow their interests
Before choosing or buying a book have a think about
what they love. What captures their
imagination? What films do they like to watch? What’s their favourite animal?
What cartoon characters do they like? What sensory preferences do they have?
For example if they love water play a story with water would be great.
Read stories that they connect with, share books and
encourage them to explore and read where the motivation is intrinsic because
it’s about something they love.
If your child’s passions are a little unique you can
create your own stories.
Pair up their interest with the book too, so if your
child loves cats, read a book about a cat to a cat.
Cars – read a car book in the car.
Bikes take a bike ride and a picnic and read about a
Thomas the tank engine on a train….you get the picture
Make the stories come alive, inspire your child.
Create themes around a book and other fun activities
to go with the story.
Reading doesn’t have to be just with their children’s
books. It can be recipes while helping
in the kitchen, ingredients, choices for activities, shopping lists, tv guides,
apps, sign posts, letters, magazines…They will start to see that reading is
useful, reading means freedom of choice and knowledge.
Notice where your child goes to relax, where do they
naturally chill out? It could be in the garden under a shady tree in the summer
with a bean bag, a warm place in the house, a big comfy chair, some love to be cuddled
under a duvet in bed. Or lying on the
trampoline, maybe beside their favourite pet.
Take their books to them, if they are happy with you
being in their space read a little and settle in, appreciate what they love
about this chosen place and notice how they use the space.
Some children need physical space to learn and that includes us being a distance from them, I have read books to Iris from another room, knowing she is listening and absorbing the words. Don’t always expect a picture of you beside your child turning pages together. Remember to follow them and take their lead.
Freedom of choice
I like to keep a selection of books in most rooms so
where ever we are Iris can take a book of her choice and have a read or just take
a look at the pictures. It’s useful for
us to notice when their interests shift onto another topic, it allows for new
stories and learning and stops the possibility of getting stuck.
Children are naturally curious, if you would like to encourage their interest in a particular subject or book create an enticing display with toys and props to ignite their curiosity in that book.
To learn new words children need a lot of repetition
so for this I like to use Iris’s ipad with story book apps that say the word
out aloud for her to hear every time she touches the word. Some books highlight the words as they are
read out aloud.
I also buy as many books as I can with the unabridged
audio book so she can listen to the cd while she reads the book.
It’s there so let’s use it
Interactive Story Book apps are incredible these days!
Films spark an interest in more stories, more books
and turn those subtitles on, it all helps.
Find lyrics for their favourite songs (Youtube)
Google Maps, Google Images
Video calling friends and family to encourage
The list goes on and on. Encourage typing, encourage curiosity
Be safe, add parental controls and passwords where
needed. Check search engine histories
and youtube history for security but also to give you more information about
their minds, what do they want to know about?
their own stories
This can start with picture stories with photos of
what happened that day or on holiday.
Add in short sentences and then create stories. Encourage your child to have their own voice,
telling a story, this can be drawn, acted, played or danced. It doesn’t have to be written down. Be creative.
They will turn pages before you are ready, skip pages, rip pages, dirty pages, interrupt you, leave the room, come back, leave the room, come back…not have the faintest interest and then 6 months later that one book and them could be best friends. No predicting it I’m afraid, Iris even enjoys a book on horseback! Just go with the flow and no pressure. Add some reading time into each day but that can be in so many different forms that it doesn’t have to feel like a job or something to tick off that list. Reading becomes part of life.
Hands cradled the golden fairy hummingbird wings, Iris positioned the Christmas tree decoration to face her and smiled at the fir needles with atoms of rainbows. I feel a lightness of being present in the moment, in the bird I can see resilience and independence. They are a sign of love in Central America with wing beat patterns symbolising infinity. In other cultures they are healers and where ever they are seen they bring joy. Our Christmas has been filled with so much joy this year, many firsts, the first time Iris has been an Elf helping Father Christmas at the Club, the first time Iris had enjoyed opening her presents with everyone, the first time she had chosen to sit at the table with chatter around her.
Then fear cut through, breaking the celebrations in my heart when I couldn’t hear her hum, the music dulled my senses and the distractions of being social meant that I missed her leave. The backdoor left wide open, tiptoes and bare feet silently made their way out into the cold. Moments of magical time turned into a ticking clock, sand slipping through fingers as I check each room and grabbed a pair of boots to take with me on my search. Iris’s mind thinks in patterns, so must mine. Last time she went missing it was the Swedish midsummer celebrations and she was next door checking out their kitchen cupboards. My mind was made up that’s where I would go and as soon as I was out of the door I see the neighbour and she points to her house. Iris is there, safe. I walked her back to her grandparents in her grandmother’s wellington boots, she hums with her arm linked in mine. My hummingbird is with me.
I think a lot about how I can keep her within the boundaries, installed coded gates at home and taught her she must only leave home with me, taught her emergency details, printouts of our telephone number, address and her name are taped to her wardrobe and we practice saying them. Could a tiny GPS gadget be the answer alerting my phone? But the ancient farmhouse walls blocking the technological world and signals in my parent’s house would laugh at such a suggestion.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, by her age I was adventuring on my bike or pony, a traveller’s spirit within me always wanting to see what’s around the next corner. I know I can’t keep her winglet in my arm forever but I feel behind, left behind with so much that I need to teach her to keep her safe. As time goes on life has got easier, communication improved, social skills…but in those night time hours, my mind fills with worry, wandering thoughts about a wandering Iris. I know I am not alone, it’s an ingrained fear in most special needs parent’s minds. My way of overcoming this fear is empowering Iris with more skills, more knowledge and abilities to try to minimize the danger. She can not live in a fortress or a cage. The hummingbird reminds me although we can fly backward and learn from past events we must move forward too, lifting negativity and flipping it into a positive. So as we leave 2019 behind I would like to take with me the knowledge that Iris is not afraid to leave what she knows, she is happier in social situations, she is seeking, she is talking to me through her actions and this will guide us forwards for more adventures in 2020.