First and foremost, our children with CVI are children. Children love predictable games, funny noises, and social interactions. Children like to play the same games over and over again. We can get our goals and objectives accomplished with learners if we understand what makes learners happy and what it is that they deeply enjoy. The parent is the most essential reporter of their child’s preferences. We need to move away from what we think children will like to what the parent knows the child will like. That is the basis for faster, fuller and longer lasting learning.
Some ideas, based on assessment of the child’s visual skills:
Instead of holding materials to gain a child’s visual attention and once they look you move on to another object, create a game that sparks a social, auditory and tactile sequence.
- “Find the pom pom. It is silver with many shiny streamers”. Once the child looks, wiggle and tickle their arm while making a funny noise.
- The parent reports that the child likes his/her feet tickled. Present an object that can represent that tickling game. “Here is the symbol for tickling. It is yellow and round like a ball”. Once the child looks, tickle their toes using a funny voice!
- For literacy, pick a predictable book with a distinctive colored cover. Make sure is enjoyed by the child. Once the child looks, “That is the Farm Animal book with funny sounds. The book is square with a green cover”.
Why? All kids are kids no matter their abilities.
- Creating fun, predictable interactions with children is the basis of a strong trusting relationship which allows the child to show you optimal skills in all areas. (Another plug for direct service to students with CVI)
- When interactions and learning are based on what the child likes, the memory of that interaction is solidly stored in the brain.
- Fun interactions guarantee that the child will be motivated to communicate at the highest possible level. (Expanded Core Curriculum area)
- Creating visual recognition using these “symbols” for games allows you to build a repertoire of symbols that will be the basis for choice making based on building visual recognition.
- When you see the way children communicate (large body movements, smiling, raising their arms or vocalizing), you can acknowledge that communication and help the child understand your needs for understanding their communication. “I see a big smile (touch the side of their mouth in an upward motion). When I see that smile I know you want more”. “I see a large body movement. That tells me you like this game”.
- You can build literacy choices and experiences supported by storyboxes, yet another set of visual opportunities. http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/storybox-ideas-norma-drissel
- You will have fun too!