This is a post out of the “31 Days of Morning Circles for the Child with Special Needs”. You can find the main page for this series here.
I originally titled this post “Morning Circle for Older Children” but since we don’t homeschool based on age but by developmental level, I modified it.
SharpBrains defines cognitive abilities as “brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. They have more to do with the mechanisms of how we learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention rather than with any actual knowledge.”
Therefore, a child with high cognitive functioning is able to achieve those skills somewhat independently. You can read more about the levels of cognition as described in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning in this post I wrote.
Jean Piaget was another key person in developmental psychology. He devised a developmental continuum delineating the stages people go through from infancy to adulthood. If you haven’t already, do familiarize yourself with his theories.
Since many of the activities I shared in this series thus far are aimed at children with cognitive delays, I wanted to address the possibility of including a child with higher cognitive functioning in the morning circle. The ideas are also great for siblings who do not have special needs.
If your child falls under either of those categories, you might be thinking that the morning circle isn’t going to keep him engaged. This list barely scratches the surface. I encourage you to use them as idea sparks for ways to target goals with your child in the morning circle.
Including the child with higher cognitive functioning in the morning circle:
I suggest using this gathering to prepare your child to become responsible for his learning – both daily and lifelong learning. Use it to strengthen communication, reasoning, and decision-making and problem solving skills along with academic skills.
- Opening Activities:
- If songs don’t appeal to your child, use a poem, meditation, or inspirational song lyrics that he selects himself. You can also include a daily joke or a statement of gratitude/ appreciation.
- Share a few pages of a chapter book for the story. You read a part, and he reads a part. Vary the texts to include relevant newspaper or magazine articles as well as poetry, short stories and picture books.
- Instead of daily weather, work with a daily + weekly schedule. What’s happening today? What order does your child want to approach the activities? What does he suggest for later in the week? etc.
- Main Activities:
- Work on short but relevant academic skills that don’t require much set-up or clean-up. Think flashcards or game cards.
- Talk about issues that your child is presently struggling with. Perhaps it was a difficult medical appointment. Ask: “How did you feel about yesterday’s appointment?” Maybe it was an argument with a sibling. Ask: “How can we resolve this kind of problem in the future without being physical?” Or, maybe it was being left out of a birthday party in the neighborhood. Ask: “How did learning that you weren’t invited to Jason’s party make you feel? What should we do about it? Do you want to talk with him or just let it go? What else can you do?”
- Have your child raise issues he wants to discuss or skills he wants to practice.
- Closing Activity:
- End the circle by setting an intention for the day. For instance, “Today, I will work on being patient.”
- If applicable, end with a prayer and a few moments of silence.
How can you include your child with higher cognitive functioning in the morning circle?