About a month ago I went with Rowan to see the film Tornado Alley which was showing at our local IMAX theatre. He was enthralled and afterwards whilst we were swimming at the nearby YMCA decided to turn me into a Jennyado.
I quickly realized that once again he had given me a brilliant way to teach him about weather and natural disasters. Over the next few weeks I went from being a Jenunderstorm (that can throw lightning bolts from her finger tips) to a Jenaimi to a Jenquake. During this time Rowan learnt a huge amount of information about weather systems and what causes these kinds of natural disasters to occur.
So why does this work so much better than if I had tried to teach him inside at a desk?
Because children with autism, and I’m sure most neuro-typical children, learn best when they are intrinsically motivated by what they are learning. In addition if a child is allowed to move whilst being asked to take in information they are much more likely to receive and retain it than if they are required to sit at a desk. Rowan was intrinsically motivated to play this game, he always finds it funny to be chased and tickled. In addition as the game involved me chasing him he was moving the whole time. And most importantly he was laughing and having fun. If you teach through humor then a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you and you are generally left with a child much more eager to learn.
It is very easy to incorporate facts that you want the child to know into a game that they enjoy. For example to turn into a Jennyado I need warm, moist air from the gulf of Mexico to tickle my toes and cold, dry air from Canada to tickle my nose. Likewise in order to throw lightning bolts from my fingertips I need frozen raindrops to collide and produce bolts of electricity.Before I knew it this information had sunk in and Rowan was telling me to watch out because warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico was heading my way.
Next week we are moving on to hurricanes and I strongly suspect that I will become a Jenicane in no time. Watch this space…