Pablo Picasso once said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” What an incredible posture, way of looking at that which is not yet known or second nature to us!
Learning is something we never outgrow and for that I am so thankful! Painting upon our ever growing life canvas, I cannot help but sometimes step back and stand in awe of the magnificent hues that captured different seasons of necessary change, growth and development, overall enriching the course of my life.
As our students gather to enjoy their SKILLZ Strong Training, they experience an ever nurturing expansion of themselves and their abilities. All of the parts of the whole, the physical, intellectual, emotional and social pieces all come together as we teach with the developing brain in mind. But how can we as parents further support, nurture and guide the developing mind and critical intellectual connections beyond the mats? Great question, let’s explore!
1. Bringing Ninja SKILLZ Home!
Seeing our team in action, you’ve come to know, love and expect that your child is going to be playing with purpose when they enjoy time on the mats. Teaching with the brain in mind, we incorporate Teaching SKILLZ alongside Brain SKILLZ into all that we do which is something you can do at home too!
Let’s look at Trickery for example! Trickery is a fan favorite on the mats and beyond when you incorporate “Ready, get set, GOOSE!” Google, Goo, Gopher… Any word but “Go!” into the picture! Through the Teaching SKILLZ of Trickery, we are building a huge amount of connection, attentiveness, engagement, focus and awareness into the mission of the moment. Further, this is all influencing and nurturing Speed of Processing and Auditory Processing for example. The use of these two critical Brain SKILLZ on and beyond the mats can have a measurable impact on the success of completing tasks in school and at home when speed and efficiency are needed most.
So the next time you find yourself in a battle over putting away the folded laundry for example, take that spirit of resistance and turn it into a spirit of assistance!
1. Engage the power of flexible thinking and have a “Captain Underpants Battle!”
2. Line up the contestants at the starting line, for us the kitchen table where we fold our laundry, and load up the troops with their first pile of laundry in hand.
3. Making sure the rules of the run have been clearly defined ahead of time, now we’re ready to have some fun! Are grippy socks on and ready to run?
4. “On your marks, get set, GHOST!” Capturing the attention of all those before you, you now have dopamine releasing, the anticipatory brain chemical, neural networks firing and pathways lighting up, ready for deeper, strengthened connections! Top off the “Captain Underpants Battle” with hugs, high fives and praise, increasing the flow of oxytocin, feel good chemicals all around and you have just taken intellectual connections to a whole new level right at home!
Play on the mats, play in school but especially play at home is vital to your child’s overall, holistic growth and development. Enjoy the creative and spontaneous elements of life and learning as they come along!
2. For Our Neurodiverse Friends…
As a mama of two boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder respectively, making connections beyond the thought process of strict “Black and White” rules and thinking can be a challenge when struggling to function in the “Gray;” the neutral zone of flexible thinking. Parents, I see you, hear you and feel you as you try to support your child in making intellectual connections with fellow family members and peers.
Creating a safe environment at home where role playing can pre-frame the mind, heart and spirit for what may come amid a group dynamic is a great place to explore the world of making new, strong connections alongside friends in a group setting.
Considering the above example, Trickery can first be introduced in the form of a social story with neurodiverse children. A social story is a tool in which the context of an activity, social engagement, practice etc., is broken down into clear steps that offer a template of interaction that is to occur. For the above example, I have broken down the context of the game in prep for play with purpose as follows:
1. Mommy and brother are going to play a game with you called “Captain Underpants!”
2. You will start by standing by the kitchen table.
3. I will give you a pile of your clean, folded laundry to hold.
4. Now here is the fun part! Mommy is going to say some silly words to see if you are really listening.
5. Mommy might say, “Ready, get set, GOOSE!” But we can’t run on the word “Goose,” we have to wait for the word “Go!”
6. It is a change to hear silly words that sound like “Go!” It is okay to laugh when you hear the silly words.
7. When you finally hear the word “Go!” run to your room to put your clean pile of clothes in your drawer. Then come back to me!
8. I will be waiting to give you big hugs and high fives when you complete your “Captain Underpants” mission.
9. You can tell mommy how you felt about the new game after we play.
For your child, you may need to edit the above template here and there to help support them in their individual needs. If your child is non-verbal, social stories can be a great tool of connection and communication. Our family often uses this special tool when experiencing new things, understanding social dynamics and supporting hard concepts that are difficult to understand.
Supporting the power of intellectual connections at home is so much fun and heartwarming for all involved! If you find yourself in need of further inspiration to keep the awesome ninja juices flowing beyond the mats, please connect with one of our Pediatric Ninja Specialists who are always standing by. Playing, learning and growing with purpose is all a part of our mission, one which we are so blessed to be able to walk alongside your family in!
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About the Author
Meg Klettke is the proud owner alongside her husband, Alex of Family Strong Sussex, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Southeastern Wisconsin. With a background in traditional and alternative therapeutics, Meg is an active advocate for today’s youth. Her passion for supporting and nurturing the whole child resonates through all she does as a Proud Ninja Mom of two boys with special needs, Certified Pediatric Ninja Specialist and Content Creator for SKILLZ Worldwide.