Students who are ready to learn know how to take in and make sense of the information around them. They know how to recognize patterns. They can consider different explanations before selecting the most likely. This type of problem solving must occur when performing arithmetic, reading, and writing. However, these skills develop outside the classroom first.

You can’t accomplish this with more math worksheets or printing practice. How can you help your unique learner improve their learning readiness? The answer may surprise you.

Learning readiness only occurs when the developmental building blocks fall into place. If your unique learner has some developmental gaps, don’t despair. These gaps can be filled in with activities that feel like play.

Here are three ways to use play to improve your unique learner’s learning readiness.

The first area to focus on is improving your child’s ability to practice “try one more time” strategies.

Start by stretching your child’s attention span by having them “hang in there” a little longer. Play with that toy a little longer, work on solving that difficult puzzle just a moment longer, read a little longer, and encourage them to “stick with” that chore you assigned them, just a little longer.

Make this goal of yours, designed to help your child, a secret. Without talking about it, start role modeling this behavior yourself and when you’re playing together.

If you’re playing a game with toy cars, stretch out the game a little longer by adding a new and creative dimension. Perhaps enjoy having the cars drive to a pretend parking lot at the pretend zoo.

If your child is reading a story, have him or her look at the pictures just a little longer. Ask your child to describe all the things that are red in the picture or all the things that make a sound.

Invent a new way of playing with the backyard bowling set and teach your child to stretch their imagination.

Teaching your child to stretch their imagination to “play longer” will help improve attention span for academic activities.

Look for opportunities for your child to “think a little more” or “try one more time”. Encourage and support their effort. Help your child to enjoy feeling their mind successfully wrap around a problem.

Teaching your child to “hang in there”, problem solve and execute one more attempt can all help keep the mind engaged in a productive manner. That may be trying one more time to find the lost sock or problem-solve how to get that bicycle wheel back onto the bike frame. It could be figuring out the best solution to the riddle of the day or finishing their chore independently.

We want children to enjoy using their minds and develop “try one more time… ” strategies. They will need them at school as well as for the rest of their lives.

Being ready to read, write, and perform arithmetic requires good spatial awareness. If spatial awareness isn’t innate and automatic for the child, academics will be challenging.

This means that children must understand three dimensional space. They have to be able to navigate their physical body in, over, under, through, around, and to explore all physical spatial relationships.

Navigating space seems simple to us because with just a quick glance, we can easily see how to navigate to the restroom in a busy and unfamiliar restaurant. The visual sense of space develops after experiencing it physically. We may not remember learning this skill, but learn it we surely did.

Our children need to learn this skill too. They must learn the words to describe physical space and be able to separate themselves from that space.

The ability to separate themselves then allows them to learn to observe the objects, people, places, and things that are in the space around them. This in turn develops into the ability to visually judge space without having to physically move around the room.

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