A sprinkle of learning

Posted by Shaunessy Martin at

Once a child receives a diagnosis, especially one with a learning difficulty attached to it, it often feels like every minute they are not trying to learn something new or practicing a skill is a minute lost. 

A minute that they will never get back. 

A minute that sets them that much further behind. 

A minute that spreads the gap that much wider between them and their peers. 

That is exactly the panicky feeling that I had for years after my son's developmental regression. And if hours or heaven forbid; a DAY went by that he was not working on specific targets then I was headed towards a full-blown panic.....Weekdays, week nights, weekends, summers- he was enrolled in or following a program/intervention/therapy. It was tiresome for the entire family. Do I regret it? Not one bit. He (and I) learned an enormous amount.  BUT I have realized through all of this that is is not about losing minutes but it is about stealing minutes. 


losing minutes: your child/student is laying on the floor humming his/her favourite song....and totalling ignoring your attempt to engage them in identifying pentagon vs. hexagon. Total amount of time: 30 minutes

(Although I also used to consider time watching a movie, being in the car, eating, doing chores, bathing, etc... as wasted minutes too. I have since calmed down. A bit.) 

stealing minutes: you realize your child/student is looking at you, sitting next to you and connected with you SO you pull out this already prepared lesson for him/her to work on. Total amount of time: 10 minutes

So you can see which one is the winner in the 30 lost minutes vs. the 10 stolen minutes. 

Here is a trick I used this summer to take advantage of stealing minutes. FYI, this was the first summer in 5 years that he did not have an intensive program throughout the two holiday months. 

You start with a schedule of activities booklet. This system is for the child to work independently and gain confidence in his/her abilities. 

*note: for some kids this will require training on how to use the booklet. 


Our booklet has 4 activity sheets with shapes that match a work bin. The cards are Velcro-ed to the booklet and there is a velcro tab on the bin. 


Once the activity is completed, the child removes the shape from the booklet and attaches to the bin. 

I include one fine motor, one reading and one math activity and the last bin should be a reinforcement. For my son that usually means food but you can use toys, books videos....

And to my poor deprived little guy this is a "chocolate bar"! 

You prepare everything in the morning so that you can grab those minutes when the child is in-tune and ready to work. On some days I would prepare these bins 2 or 3 times and on others we didn't do them at all. And that's Okay. 

Now if only I could get REALLY organized and prepare these for all 3 of my kids........... :)

Hope and happiness, 

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