Questions and Comments

Question 1
I find the notion of an asocial lesson intriguing but a little disturbing. If my child does what's required of her shouldn't she be praised? Isn't that positive reinforcement?

In the asocial lesson, the facilitator is there to take the place of, or help develop, motivational force. This exists in abundance in the normally developing child; it is what makes her continue to play so intensively. Reinforcement is intrinsic to her play activities.
The asocial lesson is designed to simulate these conditions of self-motivated play and, just like 'ordinary' play, encourages the development of the underlying general understanding. For the rest of the day the usual semi-social and social conditions, including praising desired behaviour, obtain.
The more the vulnerable child can be helped to strengthen her basic understanding by means of the asocial lesson, the more she can gain from her everyday experience and interactions outside of the lesson.

Question 2
My young son has been diagnosed with learning difficulties, and I can see he is limited in his play.  The nursery is addressing his needs as far as they are equipped to.  What can I do at home to support his development?

The fact that you can see your son is limited in his play shows me that you already have some expectations of what his play is missing.
Perhaps he is more passive than other children?  Or his muscle tone is a bit floppy or perhaps, in some muscle groups, he is overly tight?

His play may seem limited, a bit too repetitive?  All children benefit from doing the ‘same’ things again and again, but some variation is all important.  

Physical movement is the foundation of understanding in the child.  A child moves and learns about his body and his near body space from their earliest weeks.

At home think of different ways you can help your child use his body in a clearly focussed way ... putting things into a pan, a colander, boxes of different sizes, transferring them to and fro, fetching and carrying things, using both left and right, using two hands together, one leading, the other supporting.  Using hands, trunk and lower body in balance.   

Large scale activity is best.  Big chalk scribbling on a blackboard, the child wiping board clean again with a cloth.  Shifting large bricks from one container to another.  Using a scoop in the sand pit, or a small spade in the garden.  Picking up and carrying the laundry to put into the washing machine, or putting stones into a wheel barrow in the garden.  Putting shopping from a basket to the table, etc.

Doing these things alongside your child is often the best support at first  - and, avoid talking.... let the child focus on the ‘doing’.   Allow him to get pleasure from his own actions.... and learn to do more and become more independent in what he does.

Encourage effortful activity and avoid our adult drive to be more ‘efficient’.... the long route, (moving things one at a time) is the best one for children’s learning.

Question 3
I’m a little worried about my four year old daughter.  She attends nursery three days a week but does not play much with the other children, or seem to have much interest in the toys or play materials there.  At home she will spend time on her iPad but otherwise seems quite passive.  What do you think? 

More information would be necessary to answer your question fully:
How long have these behaviours you describe been evident?
Exactly how does she play with other children; and in what way, however limited,     does she engage with toys or play materials?
What do you mean by ‘quite passive’? 

Then there are more personal matters concerning the family situation that it would be helpful to know about.

In the meantime, there are several things to consider as starting points. 

Childhood is normally a time when the child’s all-important fundamental understanding is being developed, and enriched, by abundant across-the-board play; however, if the child is not playing constantly, in an active engaged manner, she will not have enough scope to (learn how to) become interested in anything. 

‘Interest’* is not innate, it is a result of understanding. As Dr Waldon argues, the process of fundamental learning, or learning-how-to-learn, follows a clear pathway:
   - doing
    - noticing what one does; later, the effects of what one does (the first glimmerings of interest might begin to emerge at this point)
   - beginning to understand
   - understanding more fully (consistently)
   - incorporation of this understanding into the [core] behavioural repertoire: now the young child can take a genuine, ‘mature’ interest in things.

The first step is to get your daughter to be more constructively active, using her hands and her whole body in both robust and focused play activities. Her iPad is of no use for this: in fact, it is a hindrance, holding back her

Please contact us if you would like more specific advice on how to go about encouraging your daughter’s creative play and early learning.

* Neither is ‘curiosity’, also a learnt quality.