Slow the lesson down, but pack it with multiple development opportunities.

When children need extra time to learn, the answer isn’t to extend the school day.

The answer lies in making the task richer with multiple learning opportunities included in the activity.

This class was working on their motor skills, creativity, sensory systems as well as their History topic. Four developmental areas – one lesson.

A decade ago I saw how my daughter was running out of time. She was struggling, and the biggest waste of time seemed to be the time she spent at school. The day wasn’t being optimised enough. OT homework had to be done at home in the afternoons, additional reading programmes were after school, therapies were only once a week.

I needed school to be MORE.

I needed her to be building her physical abilities that the OT was working on while she was learning about letters and sounds. I needed her sensory requirements to be met in all her lessons not just during homework. She needed more from each lesson.

Manipulatives (concrete learning material) seemed to be the first answer. Why were schools so stuck on worksheets?

Then seating became a focus. The right seat could develop her core stability and strength, encourage her midline crossing and encourage her to focus. Why was the chair and table not being looked at as part of a solution?

Writing on a wall would have worked on her shoulder girdle strength, only that wasn’t possible. Instead, I was asked to by a pencil grip to hold her fingers in the right position. The cause of the problem was being ignored.

We look at the whole child and what they need. Then we plan our classrooms and lessons to incorporate as many of their developmental needs as possible. When the classroom and task is set up correctly, the child gets too build their abilities and foundational skills every single day.

When this doesn’t happen we grove in old patterns of thought and solidify failure.

When this does happen, the teacher has the time to slow down. The child has the time to breathe and start to perceive their world with more engagement and in more rich and diverse detail.

With time to slow down, the child’s brain wakes up to the learning and they make new connections. New connections bring new abilities.

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