We are lucky to have great SNAs in our school. They have lots of experience and good advice to share. Here are some tips that may be helpful!
- Set up a daily routine: children like to see what lies ahead for them. It may also help to replicate the school day for your child.
- Use a timer – children react well to being given a set number of minutes for a task and it gives them a good focus.
- With any task, start small e.g. get 5 minutes of work done and have a reward such as a choice of activity. Once that routine is established, you can build on the length of time they are asked to work for.
- When a child feels like it is their choice, they are more likely to be willing to cooperate e.g. the adult chooses two pieces of work that can be done and let the child choose which one to do.
- Limit the child’s time on social media and watching the news: Focusing upon negative news stories will not be beneficial or productive
- Let children have a video call with their friends – they could play with their toys while chatting or even do it at lunch time so they can share a virtual lunch together! Some children may find it difficult not to see family members during separation time. Photos of relatives could be printed and placed into a booklet that the child could help to decorate.
- If the child is feeling stressed or worried, acknowledge it, talk about it and then move on. Don’t dwell on it.
- Try not to stress about small things and try not to react to negative behaviour as much as possible.Try to speak in a positive way to the child. Instead of saying, for example, “don’t run” instead say “walk”. That way the positive is being reinforced.
- Tokens/Rewards are an important part of our class routine. Completed tasks or working for a set time period gets a token and a certain number of tokens gains a reward e.g. snack, book, activity etc.Important that a token should never be taken away.
- Now and Then. “Now we are doing activity a and then we are going to do activity b“ This type of language helps give the child a better understanding of their daily plan.
- Pictures are very helpful in explaining tasks. Maybe using a tablet or phone to search for images e.g. picture of colouring book, jigsaw etc.
- If your daughter uses PECS as a form of communication, have it with them to reduce their frustrations
- Praising students is a great form of motivation too
- Keep instructions clear and simple
- Use of gestural prompts is another effective means of communication
On the topic of task completion:
1. Before a child performs a task, ensure that she is not hungry, thirsty nor in need of the toilet.
2. Try to limit distractions like tv, music etc.
3. Ensure that the child has all the equipment necessary to perform a task at hand. In school, children practice working from left to right. Materials are placed at the top left of the table and when finished, they are placed at the top right
Tasks don’t have to be school related. There are many tasks the child can do around home. Taking care of myself, taking care of the environment around me…Some information can be found online like “Montessori at home”. For school related activities, great ideas can be found on Pinterest.
If the child is getting stressed during a task, you can:
- Just stop the activity for now and try reintroduce at a later stage if you feel it would be of benefit and matched to her ability
- Tell them they only have a couple of minutes left – refer back to the timer
- Change to a different subject or topic
- Take a brain break e.g. go for a walk
- When a task is completed, no matter how long it took, give the child plenty of praise like: good job, great work, well done….saying it loud, with emphasis and a smile.