What's Your Favourite Colour?
Or food? Or animal? Or TV show? Getting to know someone, and finding out what their interests are, really can help strengthen your teaching relationship.
Concepts, and even some concrete skills, can be taught in ways that incorporate individual’s strengths and interests, to increase the chances that you are motivating them to begin, and complete the task.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And the theory of it is. The application, is a little harder. It takes a lot of time, creativity, and technological skill (sometimes), to make these things happen. Having done this for many, many years (almost 10!), I have lots of different ideas about teaching new skills and concepts, and ways to present. But I still always am learning about new ideas I can implement, and of course, there is always Pinterest!
Recently, I have been able to implement some specific interest-related tasks into sessions.
The first has been in one of my literacy programs. Particularly with teaching reading, finding interesting and relevant material, that is at the appropriate reading level, is not always easy. With one of my students in particular, his interests narrow in on the naughty neighbour Sid, from Toy Story, and Problem Child. He loves the naughty kids and is always enquiring about what would get them in trouble, yet he wouldn’t dare ever consider doing any of the things those naughty kids do (thank goodness!)
We have been looking for reading material that will hopefully be of interest to him. We read through Diary of a Wimpy Kid, some Nature Goodies (with worms and insects), but a really winner, that we have been reading through recently is “The World’s Worst Children” by David Walliams. Comprised of short stories involving disgusting children, including smelly children, and drooling children.
While I sit there, trying not to gag while he is reading, the kid loves it! He reads so fluently, and will stop often to ask me questions, and clarify points! He is interested in what he is reading, and is understanding what he is reading – all we have worked towards with reading, is happening!
Another client I have been individualising more of his program for, is someone who loves the Wiggles. He has inherited this love for the Wiggles, from his older brother, whom I learned all about the Wiggles from, many years ago! Now this kid is more of an “original” Wiggles fan, which suits me fine, because that’s who I learned about from his brother, but it does make things difficult, because all the VHS tapes of old Wiggles shows, are very slowly disappearing, or breaking. Luckily, thousands of those videos are preserved and accessible, via a quick YouTube search.
We have recently added a few more matching craft activities, particularly because he is very good at matching and puzzles. We have been slowly introducing a few different, and new, activities over the past few weeks, and he has been really enjoying the different tasks and demands. We have been able to incorporate a lot of fine motor skill work, and sight word and vocabulary building, within these activities.
EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES CREATED: EMOTIONS CARDS WITH CARTOON PICTURES OF DIFFERENT FEELINGS, AND A CARTOON ‘WIGGLES’ MUSIC GROUP PUZZLE.
Where possible, you should aim to include the individual’s interests in your programming. They are more likely to be interested in what you have on offer, and you can make those teaching times a little bit more exciting for them!
Students with Autism: Take Advantage of Special Interests and Strengths. http://kidcompanions.com/students-with-autism-take-advantage-of-special-interests-and-strengths/
Just Give Him the Whale! https://www.amazon.com/Just-Give-Him-Whale-Fascinations/dp/1557669600