Friday, 15 October 2010

Small Victories Mean The Most!

We are now 6 weeks into the school year and today for the first time, the little boy I am working with waved me goodbye and said, clear as anything, 'Bye-bye'.

There were three of us, the teacher, classroom assistant and me dancing up and down cheering. And one little boy who is in no doubt at all that today he did good! I love my job!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Obtaining & Maintaining Eye Contact

This may seem an obvious thing to say, but unless you can obtain good eye contact with your child, you will not accomplish much in the way of teaching. If I had £1 for every time I have said 'look at me' in my job, I'd be a very wealthy woman!

It is sometimes not easy to get the child to look at you however, and short of physically taking their head in your hands and pointing their face at yours - not really a satisfactory way of doing things for either of you, and no guarantee you can get the child's eyes to look your way - you can be left floundering as to how to get a result. I have found over the years that the trick is to make yourself as interesting as possible - if that means making funny faces, silly noises and generally making a fool of yourself (see previous post!), then that is what you have to do. I'm actually quite a quiet person, but at work you wouldn't know it as I sit there making puppets talk in funny voices, making loud sound effects to emphasise signing, and generally being noisy and conspicuous. It does work though, and the more the child you are working with looks at you, the more they will absorb in the way of language, signs, behaviour.

This is particularly relevant when working with younger children - they respond so much better to an attitude that is positive and outgoing. By the same token, your praise and disapproval should be large and exaggerated - if the child does something that you have been trying to get them to do, make your praise as huge as a human ticker-tape parade. Clap and cheer and wear a big smile. If they misbehave, frown your hardest and pretend you are distraught. Until they understand about nuances in vocal tone, this is the best way to get your meaning across.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Don't Be Afraid To Make A Fool Of Yourself!

One thing I have learned along the way both as a parent and as an LSA to children with Downs, you must always be prepared to make yourself look a right prat for the good of the cause. Take today...I'm working with a new little boy and it is taking time to get him into the groove as it were. Year 1 is difficult enough as it is, but for some children it is an almost insurmountable mountain and they need a lot of effort from those around them to help them reach their daily goals.

Today that effort involved marching around outside singing 'Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes' at the top of my voice whilst smacking the relevant body parts with a tambourine like some crazed Salvation Army reject. But it worked - little boy was engaged, joined in, learned the names of body parts, had loads of fun and signed for more. Result!