Children are more apt to become engaged in learning when a subject interests them. Understanding your student’s abilities, interests, and challenges is critically important. Plan to tailor the programs to include items a child is interested in.
Teaching through play is the foundation on which Watch Me Learn has been built. Play is the way children learn.
Watch Me Learn teaches appropriate play skills through very natural depictions of childhood fun. Watching other children play is engaging to children. Engaging in play is motivating to children. Motivated and engaged children learn.
At Watch Me Learn, we believe play is a huge motivator for disabled children, despite their limitations. Our basic philosophy is constructed around teaching a child the basic skills she needs to play and interact with others successfully.
To facilitate an emphasis on play, we go to great lengths to use manipulatives, or props (toys), that are widely available in homes, classrooms, and therapy centers. We recognize that the costs of treating a child with a disability may be extremely high. We hope this effort limits costs associated with obtaining similar toys
Carry-over of a skill is most successful when items are available in both video and physical environments of the child. Whenever possible, surround your child with the items they see used in the videos.
Reinforcement of skills is absolutely essential. Any successful attempt at a skill requires positive reinforcement. If a child attempts the skill, the simple attempt needs to be reinforced. Because successful completion of a skill may not be possible in the beginning, it is essential to pay attention to the child’s efforts. Any successful attempt by the child should be reinforced.
Success can be a small accomplishment, such as showing interest in tying one’s shoes or holding the laces. Any interest demonstrated or attempt made must be reinforced! It is also vital to pay attention to the child’s efforts with other skills taught in the videos. While a child may not be able to tie his shoes, he may show interest in participating in the “foot dance” in the shoe tying video. If so, this too REQUIRES reinforcement. Again – any effort at imitating or participating with the videos should be positively reinforced.
Reinforcements should be varied. What may appeal to a child on Monday may not be so interesting by Tuesday. Varying reinforcements is critical to the establishment of a successful reward system.
Rewards do not need to be tangible items. They can be gestures, verbal praise and small actions that appeal to a child (e.g., tickles, clapping, hugs, high five, etc…). Rewards should be “faded “ as soon as possible. You should try decreasing the frequency of rewards and the length of time spent rewarding activity.
You must make clear that all actions have consequences. At the beginning of each lesson, you must establish that the child’s actions will result in consequences, which depend on the child’s response. When a child answers a question, the answer needs to be met with the correct result, regardless of whether the result is what the child desires.
For example, you may ask a child if she wants to color with a marker or a pencil. You know she wants the marker, but she answers “Pencil.” (This verbalization may be a result of echolalia – when she is just repeating what she heard or saw in the video.) You must give the child the pencil. Now you have taught that Action = Consequence. As you continue through each lesson, be sure to follow through on ALL of the child’s requests and communications.
Prompting is a term which describes the method used to encourage a learner to attempt or complete a task. Often, a child needs a “clue” to complete a skill. When a child does not understand the response you are looking for, it is appropriate to prompt him.
There are many different ways to prompt a child. The one you choose for any given situation should be based on the child’s abilities at the time. You can give a verbal prompt by starting the first sound of the response word. Or, you may choose a visual prompt by making the shape of your mouth for the first sound of the response. A gestural prompt may include nodding your head for a “yes” response.
Prompts may be action related. For example, you ask the child a question and then you give him a tap on the shoulder or a sign with your hand, indicating that it is time to respond.
When first getting to know a child, you should always keep prompting to a minimum, until you have assessed the amount of prompting needed. Prompting should be as minimally invasive as possible and should be faded as the child becomes more proficient at each skill.
Verbal prompting should be kept to a bare minimum as it is the hardest type of prompt to fade. Whenever possible, use non-verbal prompting.
These prompt guidelines can be used to promote the learning of almost any skill.