This approach is used to develop children’s attention skills. As this attention builds the children begin to interact and learn through fun and motivating activities.
The approach works through 4 stages. The children all sit on chairs in front of the adult who sits on the floor about 2 meters away from the children. Another adult sits with the children supporting them and modelling the behaviours we want to see of looking and watching and listening. We draw what we are going to do on a whiteboard before we do it so children know what is happening.
Stage 1 – Learning to focus their attention – This stage involves a container, like a box with a lid, that is not see through and has three exciting motivational things in such as light toys, toys that move, toys that make a noise. The items are brought out of the container one at a time with lots of wow and ohh etc. to make the item really engaging. Once an item has been demonstrated it then goes back in the container and the next item comes out until all items have been used. This session takes no more than 3-4 minutes.
Stage 2 – Sustaining attention – This stage involves extending the child’s attention once they have achieved stage 1. Stage is still done and this stage is then added. Here an activity is demonstrated. You do the activity, and the children watch. Again through our actions and our simple words it is made highly engaging for the children. This session lasts no more than 5 minutes. We use the children’s interests but not their obsessions at this stage and all stages.
Stage 3 – Shifting attention – At this stage the children’s attention shifts from watching to participating and they take turns led by the adult. Activities that may happen here are having a tray with sand in , adult makes the sand castles and then the child gets to jump on them to squash them. A song is usually added to engage children more so you may sing.
“It’s time to jump on the castles, It’s time to jump on the castles, Its time to jump on the castles, jump jump jump” as the child jumps on the castles.
The first turn is the adults to demonstrate. The second turn is the supporting adult and the next turns are the children’s. We never make them do the activity if they don’t want to. This session is usually around 5-10 minutes
Stage 4 – Social development and independence – at this stage the adult demonstrates a simple activity such as rolling playdough into a sausage or pouring salt from a salt shaker. This part of the session is usually around 5-8 minutes
The children are then given a lidded tub with all the bits in they will need to do the activity. The supporting adult is given their tub first and they go to a table to start it. Then each of the children is given a tub and they also go to the table. Everyone completes their activity with encouragement form the lead and supporting adults and when finished they bring the tub back and the finished item back to the lead adult
Once these 4 stages are achieved anything can be taught through this approach. Examples of these activities can be found on our facebook page – pasturesway nursery and on Gina Davies autism centre facebook page.