Active Learning is a theory developed by Lilli Nielsen of Denmark.
She had several blind brothers.
She was a preschool teacher and psychologist who studied blind infants and children and their abilities to explore the space around them and to learn about the world.
She believed that all children learn through play.
They need opportunities to play actively instead of passively being stimulated by someone.
Because the child is visually impaired, there are less opportunities to explore or to know what is out there to explore.
She challenges us to create active learning spaces where a blind child can grow intellectually.
Dr. Nielsen Recommends:
Observe the child: We must know what a child can do and what he or she likes.
Provide the child with more activities and objects that are similar to the ones he or she likes: He or she will be encouraged to explore them. Use real household objects, not just toys from the toy store.
Give opportunities to practice and compare: When a child shows you he or she can use a toy or object leave it so they can compare the things they know with items that are new to them. We learn by comparing the new information with the old. An Example: When the child learns to bang, he needs lots of opportunities to bang different objects on different surfaces making different sounds. The child will repeat the action many times to learn it.
Provide a few materials and activities that are slightly higher to challenge the child so they don’t get bored. When you present information to the child, you only model how to use the object or how to complete the activity. You do not expect imitation.
Do not interrupt the child by talking to them while they are involved in Active Play: While the child is exploring and practicing a new movement, do not interrupt or make a comment. You can talk to the child when they stop to engage you. You can also wait for a little break to talk to the child. Talking to a child is very important but you must choose the right time.
Slow down when you interact with a child: We must be patient and wait for a child to take a turn. When playing with the child give them time to explore the object alone instead of immediately showing the child how to use it.
Let the child have control of her/his own hands: Dr. Nielsen does not want us to take children’s hands to show them things. Instead we should decide on alternate ways to present objects. (hand under hand, toys placed near the arm or leg, making noise with the object to get their attention.)
The overall philosophy is to have the child engaged with the environment as much as possible! There should never, ever be a time when the child is without something to look at and touch. Never!