Learning Disabilities And The Importance Of Play
When the teacher says put your pencil at the top of the page, some students may not know what “the top” means. They can’t follow the teacher’s instruction when they don’t know up, down, left, and right. These children have a learning disability caused by a disruption in their sensory- motor system. Poor sensory-motor integration makes it hard for the brain to collect meaningful experiences and to acquire knowledge. These students need a lot of assistance to learn and may even require some modifications to their academic expectations.
Most teachers assume that school age children understand the spatial characteristics of up, down, left and right. It is assumed that most children have had experience with the games such as “hide and go seek.” Through this game, children can learn about the size of their body. They will recognize that they do not fit inside a shoebox, but they do fit inside the front hall closet.
Games allow children to practice spatial relationships. When a child hides an object and coaches their friend to find it, “You’re hot! No, now you’re cold, colder…” Hot being you are nearly going to find it and cold means you are far away from the target. Children love these games because they are ready to learn spatial concepts. So, they love it!
The game of tag as well as many other group games teach children about their movement and speed of movement in relation to others. “I tagged you!” is often heard on the playground as students negotiate their speed in relation to their friends. Speed is measured by how fast we move a certain distance. How much space in how much time?
Not all children have the same opportunities to benefit from these games that involve friends and playmates in varying spatial relationships. Not all children have the same brain/body connections that allow them to learn from these educational games. Getting away from screens and monitors is a must for developing minds.
Sometimes a child’s lack of understanding of their body impacts their ability to understand the space around them. The incomplete data is then translated into real world experiences and result in unexpected behaviors. The student with a learning disability may be making incorrect assumptions.
We can help children with learning disabilities through play. Older students can work on spatial relationships through sports. Throwing a Frisbee or tossing a ball for the pet puppy, all focus on spatial relationships, timing, accuracy and movement.
The value of play should never be under estimated for its therapeutic benefit all of our lives.
Read more on this topic through my blogs on this website and by purchasing my book, Unique Learner Solutions (CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE).