One of my developmentally delayed sweethearts is a little boy who knows all the letters, and a lot of sounds. He knows numbers, colors, shapes, and that sort of thing. It’s obvious that he has difficulty with verbal communication — he will repeat what you say, or repeat one phrase over and over, and he doesn’t always know how to answer a question or tell you what happened — but it didn’t seem like he was that behind in other ways.
But this week, I started watching him in blocks. He doesn’t know what to do with them! They hold a real fascination for him — he picks blocks almost daily. But he doesn’t know how to build anything. He can’t make a plan (“I’m going to build a bridge!”), he can’t copy what I do when I build something, and he can’t clean up — he doesn’t know how to find where particular block shapes go, or put them in place with the correct orientation. He seems to be lacking creativity, planning skills, problem solving skills, and spatial relations.
So now my jobs are to help him learn in the block corner, and to have a diplomatic conversation with his mother about the importance of play. She does a lot of drill with him, is proud of what he knows, and thinks that he will be “caught up” by kindergarten or first grade. ( I’m thinking he might start to crash and burn in kindergarten.) Apparently there is no playing and no mess at his daycare, and I need to find out what he is doing at home.
And I bet you are going to see more and more kids like this. On the other hand, did you see the article in the NY Times about pushy achieving parents obsessing over the wonder of block play? Sometimes you just have to laugh.Maybe there will be a trickle down effect and we will one day see blocks in all the kindergarten classrooms.
It’s amazing how slim the line is between play and learning. For kids, these are two different words. One is feared and the other is loved.
Many parents look at them as two completely different concepts as well. But they’re not. There’s a lot of learning to be had from playing with the right toys and learning things organically, naturally, and on our own.
Its really interesting that he still wants to play with blocks even though he doesn’t know what to do with them. It shows his determination for learning! Some kids would get really frustrated and just play with something they do know how to do. I would take advantage of his drive for learning by pending time with him one-on-one and really focusing on helping his motor skills. Also, since it seems as if he has trouble with his speech, asking him as many questions through out the day just to get him talking would be helpful for him!