Thursday, March 4, 2010

Unusual Learning Times

We are taught in Scripture to make the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:17, ESV). We are also instructed to teach our children about God when [we] sit in [our] house, and when [we] walk by the way, and when [we] lie down, and when [we] rise (Dt. 6:7, ESV).

These things are hard to do! It's so much easier to let silence reign or to let little opportunities slip by. Part of this instruction I think also involves teaching our children about God's world as a way of teaching them about Him, part of why we choose to fulfill our responsibility for teaching Isaiah in our home.

As parents of a child with special needs, we've found ourselves in some interesting situations that we are endeavoring to turn into such teaching times, looking for ways to best use the time. And one of those times is Isaiah's "poop time".

That's right, even our time in the toilet room (a completely separate room in Russian apartments) can be used for learning, and not just about bodily functions. So what do we do every other day for about 30 minutes while giving Isaiah a water enema and then waiting for the business to be done?

~Well, we work on letter sounds.
~We review questions that people ask Isaiah all the time, like How old are you?, What's your name?, Where do you live?, What do you like?
~We count.
~We talk about the colors of the clothing we have on.
~He makes up games that we play. His current favorite is telling me Night Night and gently pushing my head to the side. Then he says Wake up! And I'm supposed to pop my head up and say I'm awake! (this is a good time to work on the pronunciation of that difficult W letter!)
~We review body parts.
~We sing. Isaiah is actually learning how to follow along with a song these days! He'll sing a word here and there, and it's so sweet.
~We review his children's catechism questions.
~I've started working on facial expressions for emotions with him, and he loves this one! He does the same expression for everything, but I vary mine.
~We listen to music.

The possibilities are many (though you do have certain limitations, naturally). For example, Isaiah can't sit on the toilet without me holding him, so we can't do a ton with our hands, well, actually Isaiah likes to play with my hair and try to put his hands in my mouth, but we can't do crafts or anything.

This learning time is one that I never would have anticipated. I confess there are days that I'm really tired, and I don't redeem this time as well as I would like. But we've been able to turn an unpleasant (at least in the odor area) time into something fun and enjoyable for Isaiah. It's great concentrated time that we have together that could so easily slip through our fingers or become a drudgery (not that I love giving him enemas, but hey, it's our life).

What ideas do you have for those random times that are unique to your family?

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