Natural Environment Teaching: Making the Most of Teaching Opportunities

We spend a lot of time working one on one with our clients, so we get to know them pretty well. We know the things they love, the things they like doing, as well as getting a pretty good idea about the things they don't like!

All of the work we do with our clients in based on not only information regarding which areas they need additional support in, but also, what things are they interested in. What things do they love? And we use those interests to motivate them to engage with us and our activities.

Fun times in the pool! Working on requesting, sharing, and waiting.

Interests can be anything! Its whatever you find interesting! This day and age, with the internet, and YouTube, you can pretty much find anything to match your interests. Some clients may be really interested in road signs, others may be really interested in the Sydney train time table, others may be interested in specific tv show or movie characters. Whatever it is, we try to find something we can use to begin to share that interest.

We are continually ensuring we are strengthening our relationships with our clients, through pairing - a process by which we make ourselves reinforcing to be around (the giver of good things!). However, incorporating their interests into activities we are supporting them in - daily living activities, academic activities, social activities - allows us to expand into contriving teaching opportunities, while still engaging them.

Using reusable stickers to practice following instructions, turn taking, and teaching prepositions.

Most of our work utilises 'natural environment teaching', where we seize opportunities that occur in the sessions, and embed our skills teaching programs within those naturally occurring opportunities. This is not necessarily very easy, and can take some time to develop a repertoire of natural environment teaching strategies! It definitely requires a lot more thinking on your feet, and thinking outside the box, however it can allow for increased engagement, and teaching time, and help with generalisation of skills to new environments.

We have had some great sessions over the past few weeks (lots and lots of sessions, as we have a lot more clients, and more new staff members). We have been able to practice contriving skills within the context of what we were naturally doing in our sessions with clients. And apart from getting some great teaching opportunities occurring, we've had a lot of fun!

Further reading on natural environment teaching: NET: Learning through Play

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