I love doing activities with my students that is outside of the box. This year for my summer programs have been no exception! I turned our large cafeteria into a market, complete with a talking cash register, customer service desk and actual baskets that were given to us from a local grocery store. It was so much fun!!
Now, I know what most of you are thinking: you can't turn your house into a full blown grocery store! I know you can't and I don't expect you to even think of doing it. I was collecting my co-workers garbage for months and I thought I could possibly be turning into a hoarder!!
But you can do something! So here is part one on "how to" get out in the community and teach. I teamed up with mobility to review the O&M factors about navigating in a grocery store (mobility posts will be coming shortly, stay tuned!!).
I have learned that most of my parents want to have their kids do something in the store but a variety of factors puts a damper on things:
1. Time and patience--if it is unfamiliar, our kids will move slower. A lot of times parents are doing their best to squeeze in a few moments of teaching. Another thing is that I have learned that parents are always good parents but not always good teachers. No offense parents, but sometimes you are not the best teachers and it is frustration all around. If you are going to get into "teach mode", get into full committment. Tell your children that right now you are teaching so no whining!
2. Lack of understanding with skills--A lot of times I observe that parents do not fully realize all the the splinter skills that go into teaching a concept especially if the child has a significant vision impairment. Remember parents, it is not as easy as "just doing it". Vision allows you process so much information at lightening speed. Lack of vision means that each and every tiny step or part of the process has to be learned and then strung together.
3. Not understanding the importance of really letting your child do it--When going to any store (or anywhere for that matter...), the independence piece starts way before getting to the actual store. It's about the planning, the pre-teaching and the anticipation of what and how to do things. This includes typically developing kids with vision impairments, too! All of our kids need to be prepared; some just need more or less time. My point is that I frequently observe parents hovering or just completely stepping back (without any kind of support) with their kids. For example, if your child isn't prepared to get the gallon of milk, then you can't expect them to get the gallon of milk. I see parents just take a huge step back and leave their kids dangling. Or, hovering next to them and prompting them after .5 seconds.
Does any of these things sound familiar? Before you can go out into the community and learn, you need to be prepared. Kids (especially teenagers) get anxious, embarassed, frustrated and flustered. I love community lessons with my students. I do them with all ages of students. Look for part 2 to help you get on your way to successful lessons in the community.
Do it at home: If you have been reading my other posts, I bet you can anticipate what's coming next! Look over my top 3 reasons why community lessons bomb and see if you can identify yourself in any of them. Take a moment and reflect on how you teach your kids. Write down what you want to do, brainstorm with your TVI or O&M if needed and start preparing for getting out into the community!!