Movement Method is Easy, Fun, and it Works!
Movement Method, Follow the Child Learning, Unschooling- these may seem like daunting tasks, and I’ve heard people say that they simply don’t have enough imagination to use these methods to teach their kids, or that they don’t really believe that they work.
So I’d like to remind you that Movement Method is not only easy, it’s a lot of fun too! Take for example our six year olds latest interest, running. How do you use running to teach a curriculum? In our case Fynn literally leads the way. He runs down the street with me and his younger brother Rowan riding next to him on a bicycle. Rowan rides in a childs seat that sits up front rather than behind the rider. A “Voice in the ear” seat.
Fynn is running, so he’s got the movement thing working for him- he’s happy, he’s receptive, and he’s getting exercise. We calculated the distance to be a almost exactly a mile away, so he’s learning in a concrete way about distance. After doing this every day for a few weeks now, he can usually tell us even when we’re driving in the car how far a mile is. On our way we pass one of those street signs that tells you how fast you’re going, he likes to sprint when it reads him so he can see how fast he’s really going. At first he could run eight miles an hour, now he’s up to ten, and still trying to go faster.
He wants to be the fastest runner in the world. So we looked up the fastest runner in the world. It’s the cheetah. They can sprint up to 76 miles an hour. What about the fastest person? Usain Bolt. He was clocked one time at 27.5 miles per hour. That’s fast. Fynn’s pretty good with numbers, he knows he can run ten miles an hour, and he knows that 27.5 is almost three times as fast, so he’s learning about speed, time and distance, and how they relate to one another. And he’s set himself a goal, to run thirty miles an hour.
Like many people on the autism spectrum, his diet is very limited. So when he asked us how he could run faster, particularly thirty miles an hour, it was a great opportunity to talk to him about food and nutrition. We talked about how muscles need protein to develop properly, and which foods contain protein. We also talked about which foods are alive and give you energy, namely, fresh fruits and vegetables. Now, though his eating habits haven’t changed that much, he’s starting to open up to the idea of eating a more healthy diet. That’s the first step to actually doing it. He’ll say things like, “so, if I want to run faster I need to eat more vegetables”- That’s huge, and it means that he will eventually work himself up to that point.
But back to our run, when we finally get to the llamas, both kids are excited. They talk to the llamas and look at them as long as I let them really. And it’s something we all do together. Sometimes it’s hard for neurotypical and autistic siblings to engage in the same activity, so we cherish these shared moments. Then Fynn hops on th’ bike and we all ride back together. At home we look up llamas on the internet. Now Fynn and his two year old brother can tell you that llamas are from South America, and that they are related to camels. We have some alpaca clothing, so we talk about their hair, and how people use it to make clothes. We listen to Andean music and talk about South America, we connect it to other interests, such as the green anaconda, so they really get a well rounded view of not only the llamas they are interested in now, but the whole world that the llamas live in.
Fynn is also learning how to read write and spell now- so when he wants to look up llamas on the internet, he has to ask us how to spell it so he can type it in… he looked on google images at hundreds of pictures of llamas and alpacas, and, because he’s a kid, found on cartoon picture of some “rainbow llamas”- this made him happy so he got out his legos and made his own rainbow llamas. And, to connect it to his other main interest right now, making stop motion cartoons, he made a little cartoon and put on a sepia effect, because, he said, llamas are usually brownish.
If you want to translate all this into educational terms, we learned math: Speed, time, distance, fractions.- spelling: typing his search words into google – social studies/culture: learning about usain bolt, cheetahs, and llamas and the people and places where they live – art/craft: the music of south America, the many textile uses of alpaca hair. – physical education: running! – biology: food, nutrition, muscles etc… It also teaches social skills, he’s interacting with his brother in a shared interest. One time we were there and another family walked over to look at the llamas, Fynn told them he ran all the way there and asked them if they ran too, then he told them everything he’d learned about llamas up to that point, and they told him some things they knew. Communication.
And all we had to do as parents was to provide them with the opportunity to learn- they did all the work and led the way. We also learned a lot, and it is great fun too! So follow that kid- no forcing no coercing no bribing nothing but an easy and exciting, and I might add, free education based on real life experience, not stuff you read in a book that you’re going to forget about in a month or two. It does work, and It’s never too late to begin. And if you need any help or ideas and inspiration, sign up for a Movement Method, it's time well spent.