Reading and resiliency: these sure sound like two skills all parents want for their child. Our team is often having conversations with parents about how our services can support children on their path to become a stronger, more confident reader. They often come to us with big challenges in the skills that underlie reading and our work together strengthens these.
Interestingly, we’ve had a lot of parents also share with us their concerns around their child’s resiliency:
We’re working on their resiliency.
They just seem to shut down when it comes to ____ (insert: school, reading, spelling, books).
We might consult an OT about their resiliency.
And don’t get us wrong - we aren’t here to say that the children we work with don’t shut down on us: they often do. Sometimes they do during the assessment and sometimes weeks (and even months) into therapy. Nor are we saying that another addition to the child’s team, like an occupational therapist, isn’t a great idea (because #ItTakesAVillage).
But what if instead of changing the child (by increasing their capacity for resiliency), we first take a look outside the child?
#1: The Environment
A child is not ready to learn if they are highly distracted by their environment (including visual clutter, smells and sounds). I don’t know about you but when my desk is an absolute mess, my email notifications keep dinging and I smell that batch of cookies in the oven, my resiliency for work is about zero. By setting up a child’s environment during learning, we can help them be better prepared for learning. Of course, this is not going to guarantee a child is engaged but it’s going to up our chances a lot! Our team at We Communicate provides a handout for all families who are participating in virtual services to help you with just this! Please note: we are often advocates of children moving while learning. When we help children figure out how they learn best, we’re all happier!
#2: Ourselves (as educators/adults)
Once the environment is optimal for learning, we need to look at ourselves as the one supporting the learning. It is very common for our team to meet a child who cannot read a 3-letter unknown word and immediately shuts down when told we’re doing a reading task. [Confession: I still get nervous that I won’t be able to support a child out of this negative mindset. And I feel that way because I care so deeply about their well-being. I want them to be able to enjoy reading Lego instructions, video game prompts and baking recipes]. But we’ve also had more experiences than we can count where weeks or months into reading intervention, the child logs on to their second session of the week, excited about a book they just read and pumped to learn a new spelling rule! Excited to learn something new that is within an area that is challenging for them - that’s resilient! The same child; a different approach.
To support each child to thrive, we can ask ourselves questions like:
What are my goals or desired outcomes of this interaction?
What approach am I using and is it the best for this child? [For a very honest post on one main approach to reading, sight words, check out this blog: https://www.wecommunicateslp.com/post/sight-words]
How will I vary the amount of support if they need it?
How will I provide feedback on their skills?
As I mentioned above, I’m not saying that building resiliency is a bad thing or that we shouldn’t be doing it. I’m simply saying that a child’s resiliency is one of many factors that impact learning and we should make sure we’re being mindful of all of the factors to best support that child.
If you want our team to help your child become a stronger, more confident reader, our referral form is a super-quick form that you can complete here: www.wecommunicateslp.com/get-in-touch