Hello! April is here at last! We hope you're doing well this week and that you got a chance to have a look at some of the online learning platforms we've been sharing. There'll be a learning phase for all of us as we try to make distance learning as effective as possible so please get in touch with any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Ildi shared a lovely activity she has been doing with her children that is really nice for the current theme: growing beans at home!
First: leave the beans in wet tissue for 4-5 days, they can then be transferred to a Ziploc bag.
The following information may be useful in setting up a home-schooling environment - it relates to the use of visuals.
Using visuals will really help to foster the right learning environment. There are three main visuals that we use in school – the daily schedule, the first-then card and the token board. There are other visuals that are used less commonly in our classroom that you might want to consider as well. Some of you may be using visuals at home already. Making visuals requires specific materials such as printers, laminators and Velcro (not to mention a bit of time and effort!) so they may not be something you will have access to but even writing out and drawing a few simple visuals on card may be a useful alternative. For anybody that has access to the resources necessary to make their own visuals, we will be sharing the specific pictures and materials that we use in class. This might help to maintain a bit of consistency.
This is a very valuable visual as it outlines the daily structure and lets your child know what to expect for the day. In class, this visual would have a picture representing all the usual activities during the day (work-snack-playground, etc.) as well as any special events that are going to happen that day (assembly or school trip). Many of the children in our classes want to check the daily schedule first thing every morning. If you are not currently using a daily schedule at home, you may want to make a short version purely for work time. Our daily schedules are arranged vertically, with the first activity represented at the top, the next activity below that one and so on. When children check the schedule, they remove the picture from the schedule and bring it with them to the appropriate area (e.g. they take the picture of “work” to the work table). When they arrive at the correct area, they put the picture on a corresponding visual (The work table has a picture for “work” and a space for the child to attach their picture below it). This may or may not be practical at home but even having a hand-drawn representation of your structure for work can be a great idea! An example is included below (note that these are not the pictures used in your child’s class, the templates we send on will look a little different):
The first-then is very simple: it has space for a picture under the word “First” and space for a picture under “Then”. This is a very useful visual and can be used in a number of ways.
A token board can be used with children who are motivated to wait a little longer for a reinforcer at the work table. Instead of getting the toy/activity every three to five responses, the child gets a token for every three-five responses instead. When they’ve collected a set number of tokens (usually five) they get access to the chosen activity/toy. This spaces out the amount of work your child is expected to do before getting their reinforcer. A few important things to remember with a token board – once the child has chosen something to work for, they should work for that item. If they change their mind half way through and choose something different, you should keep working for the original choice but let them know they could choose something different next time. Also, you should always finish a token board, so if your child is finding work really tough and you want to finish up, throw in some simple tasks that you know they can respond to so you can give them their remaining tokens and finish on a positive. It’s really important that your child always knows they can expect to get access to their reinforcer if they do their work.
There is no end to the types of visuals you could potentially use but whether or not you choose to use them depends largely on whether or not they will be useful for you at home. Here are a few visuals that we use from time to time. There is absolutely no need to make any of these unless you’ll find them useful. Please get in touch if you want to ask whether these might be useful at home:
These are a fair bit of effort to make as they require you to take pictures of all your child’s preferred items. They are really useful if your child can find it difficult to express a preference but generally in class we find that all our children can clearly express their preferences. What these visuals involve are: individual pictures of all your child’s preferred toys and activities which are attached to the choice board with Velcro. When your child wants to choose something to work for, they remove and exchange the picture of the appropriate item which can then be put on the first-then. A simple example is included below.
A weekly schedule has a space for an activity for below each day of the week. They can be useful if there is a big activity coming up that your child is really excited about (in Holly and Hawthorn class, everybody is really excited about swimming so we use our weekly schedule to show when it is going to happen). Your schedule might have something like “Monday: home, Tuesday: home, Wednesday: beach, Thursday: home, Friday: home, Saturday: park, Sunday: home”. Or it can have space for multiple activities under each day.
A no access visual can be used to indicate that something is unavailable or can’t be used right now. There are multiple ways to construct No Access visuals. One method is to make a clear plastic pouch or envelope with a red “No Access” symbol on the outside. A picture of the appropriate item can be placed inside, for example: putting the picture of the ipad from a choice board inside the envelope and saying “iPad is unavailable but you can choose something else”. A red “X” can also be placed over a picture of the appropriate item instead. This is not something we use frequently in class but you may find that it is useful at this time when many preferred activities are not going to be available.
We love seeing your pictures from home school! Keep them coming!
Marta sent us some lovely photos of the painting and baking she has been doing this week!
Good morning everyone! Please check google classroom for this week's recommended activities. Please see our user guide for accessing Google classroom - https://www.powerstownet.com/google-classroom/?fbclid=IwAR2AMVhcA36bzttcW0QnQ8GAc2aCSjmBI7ajseuxNJ1KIiR5Wzm45dLvy_8
If you need any further help with Google classroom please email Patrick or Gary and we will help as best we can (we are very much still learning too!)
Going forward we will updating the blog with pictures you send us and using google classroom for work, so that you can add comments and share what you have been up to.
We are delighted that Sonia has joined the Holly / Hawthorn team and will be working with us to support you with your home learning.
Home School Pictures
Some great pictures of what you have been getting up to at home. Keep them coming!
Middletown Centre for Autism
The Middletown Centre for Autism, which recently ran information sessions in Powerstown, are offering information sessions for parents, as well as circulating a survey as to how best they can support parents during the current circumstances: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MCAprovidingsupport
They are also offering a variety of live online seminars to support parents. Places are limited so if you're interested you can register at the following links:
Introduction to sensory processing - https://us04web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2C2Ji3r-QKKLz_TYhgor8w
Handling the New Normal - https://us04web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FyOv0sukQCy0nZkjCgkznA
Wellbeing and Being Well - https://us04web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pIP6rXVzTlCdk-L0bSQT5w
Personal Care - https://us04web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_koMYTJh5S7GVN6WDMZ1lag
Play and Leisure Skills - https://us04web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_MYBm2ekFQdWIjSPNvdumAQ
Promoting Leisure, Fun and Happiness - https://us04web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jvssJJQmSeWgLBJORRwF0w
Hello: we hope you've had a nice weekend and are having a good Monday! As the school closure looks to be an ongoing situation, we are going to provide information about how best to support learning at home. An email has been sent around regarding the use of Google classrooms to assign work. We realise that everybody's situation is different and that we are all facing different challenges and pressures during these times so we want to work with you on what's realistic for you to accomplish with your child at home. It would be great if you can give us feedback about what is possible for you. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
In the meantime, we will be sharing information on the blog as normal as well as using online platforms such as Google Classroom.
Continuing schoolwork at home:
We recognise that during the current school closure, many of you are under pressure in trying to maintain consistent schoolwork at home with your children. The safety and health of you and your children, including your mental health, should be your top priority and you should not feel anxious about trying to recreating the school experience at home if it is causing an undue burden. We also recognise that for some children with a diagnosis of autism, the distinction between “home” and “school” can be very firm, and attempting to transform the home space into an environment where you are completing schoolwork can be difficult. Having said that, there are a few ideas that might be helpful to you in trying to establish an environment that supports your child’s learning. If nothing else, establishing a routine that is similar to the school routine might be reassuring for your child.
If at all possible, it is ideal to create a physical space that is dedicated to schoolwork. A small desk, or even an area of the kitchen table, would be great. This might make it easier to create a distinction between “work-time” and “play-time”. If space permits, it would be ideal to reserve this space for work and only work – whenever the child is at their work station they are doing work and only work. This may not be possible if you need to use the same table for mealtimes, etc. but if you can manage to keep a space that is dedicated for work, it will be very useful. If you have the opportunity, it would be great if this space were free from visual and auditory distractions. A quiet part of the house would be ideal and it might even be a good idea to set up the desk or learning space away from windows to eliminate distractions. Using visuals can also help to create a learning environment (more on this soon).
It probably goes without saying that routine is going to be incredibly important. Having a consistent time for work is a really good idea as it maintains as much of the structure of school time as possible. It’s better to do 30 minutes per day, every day (or 20 minutes or 10 if that’s all you can manage!) at a consistent, predictable time if you can manage it. There are lots of things you are probably doing already, such as physical activity, play and meal times, that can be incorporated into the routine. This makes much more predictable for your child and can make them less anxious. It also maintains that great routine they’ve had in school that has helped them become such good learners. Make it easy on yourselves by easing into the routine! Start with PE: this can be a few minutes of dance, movement, OT and/or animal walks.
You and your child might find it tricky to settle into a work routine at first so pick tasks that your child knows really well and for which you can guarantee success. The emphasis at first is on creating a new learning environment in the home, not on getting through the whole curriculum! Even if your child has previously done home-program work at home or with a tutor, they might find home-based schooling challenging at the present time due to the disruption to routine, etc. so pick small, manageable goals at first and give yourselves a win!
We would recommend programming your child’s work time so that they spend no more than 15 minutes at work before changing the activity to something different. You can alternate between the 1:1 table-top work and less demanding work every 15 minutes for as long as you have time. Breaking work into smaller chunks will help keep your child engaged. For example, in class we might spend 15 minutes at the work table doing the intense 1:1 work that relates to your child’s individual literacy, numeracy and writing targets. Then we would transition to a separate area where we would work on fine motor, play and social targets. This has a number of benefits: it keeps the child engaged by having multiple transitions, it alternates high-demand with lower-demand work and it has a built in movement break every 15 minutes. So, in the home setting, you could do 15 minutes work on numeracy, literacy, etc. and then spend 15 minutes working on fine motor tasks (some suggestions will be coming along before too long!). Even if you work on these different skills in the same physical space it’s a good idea to get up and stretch the legs before changing activities – going to check the visual schedule is a good idea here. We can send more details about what to work on in the various settings (high-demand table-top work and lower-demand fine motor, play, etc. work) in future but for now the main idea is to build in a change every 15 minutes, ideally with a little walking break in between.
More details of specific work tasks you can try out at home will come in the future. For now, you can work on the packs that were sent home for your child. Having said that, the single most important skill to work on is communication which, for your child, means them requesting items. Obviously your child can ask for things they want in the home using natural opportunities. During school, we spend time creating artificial scenarios where they have to request items as much as possible in a short period of time to really accelerate their communication skills. We can send more details of how to do this later but for now it’s good to think of communication as a “work” task that is at least as important as literacy, numeracy, etc. When your child is colouring, for example, hold on to all the pencils and encourage them to request each colour one-by-one rather than getting them all. The same goes for toys with multiple parts such as Lego or connect 4. And always expect the best quality of communication your child is capable of. If they are really fluent in full sentences, then do not accept single word requests. If your child requests using single words then accept their best possible approximation of the word.
Thanks for all the photos you've sent! Keep them coming! Everybody gets such a lift from seeing all the familiar faces!
Hello all! We hope you've managed to enjoy this week and got some benefit from the activities suggested on the blog. Moving forward, we are hoping to consult you all about what would be most useful to support you with home-schooling so we'll be in touch next week about this.
Highlight of the week:
If anybody has any highlights of the week they'd like to send to us, we'd love to hear from you! Patrick's highlight was being able to sit on the balcony in the sunshine and drink some tea!
Clive has said "My highlight was to be able to spend time with my beloved dog Roxi with and I miss you all big hugs xox". Maybe Clive has had too much time at home!
Conor's highight of the week was enjoying the garden in the sun. Well done Conor for staying on theme!
Gary's highlight was going around the house and garden on a horse.
Ildi sent us some lovely pictures of the activities she and her family have been getting up to!
If anybody has any pictures from the nature scavenger hunts (or any activity at all you've been doing this week) we'd love to see them!
We have a message from Lisa in Holly class!
Hey Holly and Hawthorn Boys and Girls! Lisa here we are sure missing you all.. but delighted to see you are all having fun at home with your families! To the Parents, you are doing a fantastic job, we are all in this together, just wanted to share a few pictures of my family’s week. Keep your pictures and stories coming, it’s lovely to see to you all! Take care, have a lovely weekend.
We hope you've been having a good week and have a nice weekend to look forward to. If you have any questions or want to get in touch about anything, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Take care!
Almost Friday everyone, hope you are having a good week and enjoying the sunshine.
We have been experimenting a little bit with dynamics with this song. Nice and simple, when the fireflies are blinking, we are very quiet, for the other animals we are louder!
Photos of home school
We love seeing the photos coming in of all the great work you are doing. Keep them coming!
We hope, if you got a chance to try food desensitisation with a finely textured food like flour last week, that your child enjoyed the activity! If not, there's no need to worry: you can spend extra time working on the last phase at which they were comfortable. Everybody really enjoyed rice play in Holly and Hawthorn class a few weeks ago so you could try using a little rice tray for a while to increase comfort levels. If your child has been enjoying all the activities up to this point then we can progress the program by introducing mixed-size dry textures: try adding some rice, large pasta shapes (like penne), dry beans and flour to a tray and see how your child enjoys that. We recognise that you may not have all these items in the house so don't worry if you only have a few of these on hand to spare for this activity. The emphasis is on getting comfortable with the variety of textures presented by this activity: touching, feeling, burying hands in the tray and so on.
You can try some of the same activities that we recommended for the finely-textured dry food play:
- Playing with preferred figure-toys in the tray.
- Using cups, spoons and other containers to transfer the food between trays.
- Burying some items from an activity (pieces from a puzzle, pegs from a peg-board) in the tray and encouraging your child to retrieve them.
Thanks so much for all the photos gang: great to see how everybody is getting on at home with schooling, social skills or just getting out and about!
Highlight of the week:
Just a reminder to let us know if you have any highlights from this week!
Morning all! Hope some of you managed to get some air (at a safe distance from others!) yesterday and managed to spot some items on your scavenger hunt. Why not finish Circle Time today with a little song that will help you learn more about insects?
Growing Basil, Aubergine and Parsley
This month we would have been growing some plants to add to our garden, so we have started to grow these at home and will upload pictures of their progress. Hopefully when we are all back in school we can use these in our food desensitisation programme. To start, all we did was add some water to the soil and made sure the pots are in the window with plenty of sunlight to help them grow. We will keep watering them to help!
Toilet Roll Art
With all those empty toilet rolls, here are some ideas for a little bit of garden / outdoor themed art.
We love seeing all the pictures of the work you are getting up to at home. You all look like you are having fun!
Hello everybody! We hope you had a lovely weekend and a big Happy Mother's Day to all the Mums!
We love getting photos of you guys hard at work at home, getting some exercise (which is so important!) and spending quality time together as a family. Keep them coming!
We have a little scavenger hunt you might be interested in if you can get outside today. We'll be trying to find as many of these items as we can and ticking them off our list. Bonus points if you can get a picture of some of them!
In the meantime, we hope you're all keeping well. We are working away at a few ideas to support your child's learning should this turn out to be a prolonged school closure but if you have any questions, get in touch via email to either firstname.lastname@example.org or Patrick@powerstownet.com. We hope you like these pictures we received from people who have been doing schoolwork, P.E., spending time with their families or completing some of the activities from the list we sent out last week!
Good morning! We have a few small updates for the blog for today. As you know, we've been learning about plants and the outdoors currently so we have two videos that you might find interesting.
The first video is a short explanation of how a seed becomes a plant:
The second is a video we can watch explaining the parts of a plant:
Hopefully you'll enjoy having a look at these videos at home and we can get back to planting in the geodome in school before long!
Usually on a Friday we would have assembly in school. In place of this, if you want to talk to your child about a "Highlight of the week" and get back to us, we can post this on the blog or put it into the school newsletter!
Keep going everyone, it's almost Friday!
Today we are encouraging you to get moving with your family (sorry adults, this one is for you too!) We have a nice short workout to get your heart rate up and spend some of that energy you have built up. Just maybe swap the high five at the end for an air five and wash your hands afterwards!
Make a Sunflower
If you are feeling the need to sit down and relax after your workout, why not try and make a sunflower by following the link below if you have some of the below materials. You could make any colour of flower, and if you dontt have a wooden rod a piece of cardboard or an empty kitchen roll holder might work just as well. Don't forget to send some pictures of your completed flower to us.
We are loving the pictures you are sending in of the great work you are getting up to at home. Keep them coming...
Free Access to EdCo
Finally, you can access some free e-books on the below site, with something for everyone to enjoy.