This series of short essays is intended as an introduction to TAC or as a refresher course for everyone around babies and infants who need special support for their development and learning. The article can be translated for use in newsletters, networks and websites in any country
SEVENTH PRINCIPLE: Activities to support the child’s learning and development are integrated into the child and family’s natural everyday activities. Teachers, therapists and other practitioners in the child’s TAC support parents in learning how to help their child in these activities.
All new children develop their understanding of the world and learn their first skills in manipulating it during the natural activities of taking food and drink, relating to parents and other family members, being washed / bathed / dressed, getting ready for bed, in playing with toys and moving around the house. This starts from the first days as bonds of attachment are forming. Development and learning in these basic tasks begin in the family home and then continue in nursery or first school.
When asked to do so, TAC practitioners can support parents in learning how to manage these activities as pleasurable educational experiences. Parents can decide which activities they want to focus on rather than trying to tackle them all at once. Some parents will choose those everyday activities that are presenting difficulties at the moment, for instance, managing clothes.
Working with the child and family in this way: avoids discipline-specific programmes; ensures new learning is relevant to the child and family’s situation, routines and culture; provides daily opportunities to practice new skills. While fun and games are part of these activities as much as possible, children are learning to take their part in the life of the family.
All natural activities provide opportunities to develop understanding and skills in all aspects of child development; posture, movement, dexterity, communication, cognition, seeing, hearing, touching, etc. They also provide early learning about relationships, emotions, consequences, sequences and purpose. As an example, all of this can happen in the activity of getting a child dressed at the start of the day. Practitioners can offer guidance in this when a parent is finding difficulties because of the child’s physical or sensory challenges.
The paediatric physiotherapist, Sophie Levitt, has pioneered this approach. We read in her Basic Abilities – a whole approach that it is –
‘...a new practical approach for those caring for a child with multiple disabilities. For the first time parents are enabled to use the child’s everyday routine as part of a developmental programme that will help the whole child...
‘With its positive approach, its emphasis on what the child can do and its methods which reinforce each other to benefit every aspect of development, this warm enlightened book enables parents to make a genuine contribution to their child’s [development and learning]. The integrated functional approach also provides a framework into which professionals can add their own special knowledge and skills.’ (From the publisher.)
There is no suggestion here that parents should turn every natural activity into a lengthy education session. This would only add to their tiredness and stress and detract from the child’s enjoyment of life. Each parent must come to a balance that suits them and the child, that offers appropriate opportunities for development and learning, that fits with the child’s interest and capacities and that uses the time available to the best advantage.
Providing early education in this natural and relaxed way will enhance quality of life by giving the child opportunities to be fully involved and succeed and by enhancing parent’s self-esteem as they increase their competence and confidence in bringing up their child.
See: Basic Abilities – a whole approach: A developmental guide for children with disabilities by Sophie Levitt.
First TAC Principle here
Second TAC Principle here
Third TAC Principle here
Fourth TAC Principle is here
Fifth TAC Principle here
Sixth TAC Principle here
Seventh TAC Principle here
Eighth TAC Principle here
Ninth TAC Principle here
Tenth TAC Principle here