Whether your child does homework or homeschool in your home. Your home is an essential aspect of your child’s learning experience. After all many kids spend nearly as much time in the home as they do in a classroom. There’s a quote that comes to mind on this topic.
“The world will teach our children if we do not, and children are capable of learning
all the world will teach them at a very young age.” — Rosemary M. Wixom (n.d.)
Because everything a child does or does not do is teaching them something we should do all we can as parents to set our children up for success. On that note let’s jump into our list of tips on establishing your home as a haven of learning for your child.
Help Them Read Books
Reading books helps children develop vocabulary, emotional maturity, memory, imagination, and concentration (Mcilroy 2021). For many children this will just mean keeping a variety of books available in the house, reading with them a few nights a week, and making the occasional trip to the public library. For autistic children, this can be more difficult due to their desire for regularity. On that note, I have a couple of ideas to help you introduce variety in a regulatory fashion.
For the first method, you will need to create a “calendar” in excel. Assigning each weekday, a specific color. Then print out a label with the name of the day and the color it is associated with on the calendar. Divide up all the books as equally as possible among 7 buckets. I bought the buckets for my twins at the dollar store. Each morning we put yesterday’s book box on the shelf and I have them help match the color for today from the calendar to the bucket. Then the new day’s bucket comes down and they have access to it all day. We still had the occasional meltdown with this method when one of the boys wanted a book from another day.
The second method we tried has fewer meltdowns but doesn’t introduce as much variety as the first method. In this process the child will select a book to read first, then mom or dad will have a new book that is read second, and the child picks another book to read last. The idea here is to make sure that if their autism guides them to the same story first every day, the parent-selected book will provide the variety. Then concluding with another child’s choice book thus closing the variety and irregularity, restoring the routine. It did take us a couple of weeks to get the twins into this rotation, but it has noticeably helped improve their speech already.
To help keep down the spending on new books, we started taking the twins to the library once a week. They each pick out 3 “new” books that will be read second throughout the next week. They also have storytime at the library that we attend to which provides additional variety, activities, and some social interactions as well.
Environment of Education
Another important of learning is the environment in which it takes place. This is more than just a space with a desk, educational toys, and games. We must take it a few steps further and plan the activities available to the children. Dress-up or Imagination play is a fantastic tool that serves many aspects of learning. You have the motor skills that go into getting dressed. Then you have the social interactions. Also consider outdoor play like a sand table, water table, or just scavenger hunts in the backyard. One tip here is to have distinct and separate areas for each activity. One way I keep the areas near but distinct is with posterboards on the wall near each activity. We printed out photos of the twins playing each activity on each poster so they can visually see, this is the construction area, or this is the dress-up area, and so on.
Think of routine as the glue that holds everything together. Whether your child is out of the house for part of the day. Try to keep the same routine each day. One example is that after they get home from daycare or school, each activity is a station, and every 30 minutes they switch stations. Only require the first 5 or 10 minutes to be on the assigned activity, then they can return to other activities. The idea here once again is to introduce variety while still allowing the child to have freedom of choice. However, the transition into this routine could cause some emotional discomfort for autistic children while they learn the new normality of this routine.
Tying It All Together
Setting up a home environment that promotes learning isn’t a daunting or expensive task. Many items can be found at your local dollar store. With just a little bit of time and effort you can turn the space you have into the space that will help your children blossom and grow. Then once you have things arranged and set up with a schedule that works for your family. Prepare for a new season of growth and development that will help prepare your children to be autism conqueror’s claiming victory over circumstance and being the best version of themselves as they can.
Mcilroy, T. (2021, November 12). 21 ways to create a learning environment at home. Empowered Parents. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://empoweredparents.co/learning-environment-at-home/
Wixom, R. M. (n.d.). Rosemary M. Wixom quote. AZ Quotes. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.azquotes.com/quote/799172