As I was chatting with some other parents of kids with a vision impairment about reading and writing tools, I found myself thinking and talking of the things that solidify learning for me – and for others.
I used to only remember the things that were written onto the calendar on the toilet wall, ’cause I saw them repeatedly I think, and a form of rote rehearsal perhaps. Reading an actual paper book, remembering where on the page a favourite quote is, has also been a source of remembrance for me (not so much with electronic books). If I underline something I can, of course, look back and find the spot, but I actually remember the things underlined more than general reading…and if I write it, or about it, in my journal it is more cemented within than ever. Then there is the reading or hearing I have written poetry about, or heard songs about; forever a part of me.
An aunt recalls and consolidates by associating song already ingrained with new experiences and learning. A friend’s son on the Autism Spectrum showed a month or two’s retention when he was able to continue his drawing and cutting while a lesson was taking place. At least two of my three children have said that their retention of books and school/university work is greater when they read the braille (on paper or braille display) rather that just listening to audio.
The more we are immersed in something, it seems, the more it means and the more likely we are to remember and perhaps then transfer that learning.
The more comprehensive my children’s experiences of something as they were growing up, the more comprehensive their understanding of the object or experience – and the less they feared things that had produced fear when they were unknown.
Tactile fears of sand, seeds, wet and sticky substances when guided by early childhood educators, were overcome or understood with immersion mixed with favourite or already pleasing items. Desensitising occurred alongside experiential information allaying imagined discomfort, pain or other physical/emotional response. The experience could still be disliked, we all have preferences for and against something, but willingness to experience rather than run from provides untold possibilities. Willingness to experience facilitates informed decision-making rather than reacting and remaining there without consideration; being able to pass through physical, emotional, psychological responses attunes us to ourselves, and in turn we may recognise these things in others; empathy; exhilaration; repulsion; curiosity; physical strength; broadened horizons; embracing imagination…
Some of these experiences which began with aversion and led to embracing were:
- favourite toys hidden in a large tub of bird seed or sand pit
- mixing instant chocolate pudding with hands and spoon
- slime (cornflour and water) hand painting all over the kitchen table
- cracking eggs into a bowl, completed half shells progressing onto breaking and mixing shells and egg all together
- having brushes of many sizes and textures swiped over feet, hands, cheeks etc.
- calves and lambs sucking on fingers (no one adjusted to this one!)
- scented play dough, cake mixture, making up their own recipes, baking them and eating what is baked
- Standing up on the moving train, for 3 hours!
We are whole people, multi-faceted. The more of me that is involved, the more involved I become, and the more I become involved, the more I become who I am.