Miriam and I looked at each other as we heard the car pull up outside, ‘ready?’ I said with a big smile. The decking area was all set up and so was the garden.
Miriam had designed some boards with a few questions for Violet to answer and they were out in the meadow and on the bench. They were multiple choice which helps take the pressure off and keeps it fun.
We hoped Violet would think it looked inviting and it would encourage her to explore. Although this was officially the ‘confirm it’ stage, a time for Miriam to gently test Violets knowledge she had gained the day before through games we also like to introduce some new ideas, ‘dropping’ info and other possible interests to give us opportunities for the following sessions. It allows us to take an organic approach and to follow the child but carefully guiding at the same time. This is how I feel The Movement Method could work very well in schools, you can work within a structure if you are clever about how you approach it. It’s all in the way that you present the information to the child, how you introduce the new topics, how you connect from one to the other so it makes sense to them using their current passions allowing them to make those connections in a meaningful way.
We had created a mini world in a tub with sand, rocks, some water and animals that could give us an opportunity to talk about evolution. The foliage in the tub were herbs from the garden with a calming scent and we had all sorts of items on the table which would be topics for conversation/exploration.
Both umbrellas were up as it was sunny and I always prefer to work in the shade if possible. Also I thought I would note down some extra points might be useful for you guys. Children on the spectrum can be very sensitive to light, I have a useful little table on wheels which I often take into the garden as it's sturdy and light but it’s bright white, glaringly so in the sun which means none of the children will want to look at what’s on it for very long. Simple solution, put a towel over the top like a table cloth. Solves 2 problems at once. There are always times on a play date when a child needs to wipe their hands and it stops the light being so bright.
When you are setting up for a play date always give yourself time, make it look as attractive as possible, bring magic into their lives but also consider their senses too and how they will react in certain situations. Ever since I started our activity club I had 2 rules in my mind. 1. keep some 'anchors' for every kid that stays the same, by that I mean things that are put out on their particular interest that will always be there for them, a kind of comfort blanket if you like. Something that they connect with and will make them feel safe. 2. The rest changes, I never set up any play dates the same way, it's always evolving and changing, sure the equipment might be the same but it's always presented in a new way with another theme in mind, another concept we want to teach or to introduce. This will not only keep things fresh and exciting for the child but for you too. It will stop you from burning out.
‘Where is Miriam?’ Violet asked as she gave me bunch of beautiful flowers as a thankyou for the day before. Iris was reading her book on the swing chair and Violet saw the fur coat on the stool in front of her. “The woolly mammoth!” then she asked to go on the trampoline.
I loved that trampoline more than ever, time and time again over the past week it had helped us. It makes it so much easier to communicate, to interact and to laugh. It’s the ultimate ice breaker and a perfect way to begin the session. The movement itself is also good to cope with the high energy and to increase the blood flow in your brain & to release oxytocin. Brilliant in every way.
After a bounce Violet said “Can we go into the wild garden?” She ran down the hill through the wildflowers to the fire place where Miriam had left the 'confirm it' activity. She took the poster board that lay on the fire bricks and had a closer look. “So this is the question, Why make a fire? - The Neanderthals. And you see the options” her mother explained. “Maybe some are true and some are not.”
Direct questions seem to be very suitable for her, she can choose options and it has a clear structure. Maybe the reason is that she can feel secure and that this is how the world is functioning through her eyes, everything is logical, there are rules and something can be right or wrong and true or false. She doesn´t seem to get anxious about direct questions like other kids on the spectrum easily do and this example shows that Movement Method Guidelines are only a guidelines which you can adapt to a certain level. A huge benefit of the Movement Method that it is so flexible with the guidelines, you can adapt it, but the basic theory - using their interests, movement, Do it, Drop it, Confirm it phases work well with every child.
Last but not least, always give a little 'Time for Innovation', this set up below gave the family a chance to make up their own game. It became a kinetic dictionary. The game - think of a topic, step across the stones and bounce on the trampoline, say a word from that topic and the others describe what that words means or if they don't know the bouncer can teach them. This could be adapted in so many ways, the options are endless. That's what I love, endless opportunities for learning in a fun way, thinking outside the box and being creative.