Natural environment teaching, or community-based learning, is a method of teaching children skills that they can generalize for environments other than just the learning environment. These lessons are taught as games, so that children can have fun and learn at the same time! This naturalistic “learning through play” focuses on three things:
- Intrinsically motivating materials. Give a child a task with the reinforcement intrinsically embedded in the task. For example, every time a child says the word “juice” she gets a sip of juice.
- Teaching in natural environments. Teach the child everywhere; at the breakfast table, at the grocery store, on the playground, etc. The setting and the skill are directly related, so the child learns how to react in various environments.
- Utilizing the child’s interests. When the child is excited about a place, person, or object, you can use it as a “teachable moment” to teach the child skills in the moment.
While natural environment teaching is a constant process that takes place in a variety of settings and situations, we do offer classes in our Tot Gym where you can learn different teaching methods and how to apply them in everyday life. We offer three main courses that target different areas of learning.
Every Monday through Thursday from 9:00 to 9:30 am, we host Move and Groove Time in our Tot Gym. This class is for emerging walkers and movers from ages 18 months to four years. We play music that is designed to get toddlers dancing and moving! Instructors model how to encourage safe movement with methods that you can use at home. The movement combinations taught at the Tot Gym will help children achieve coordination, strengthening, and motor planning skills that they can use at home and in the community.
Learn Sensory Management
After Move and Groove Time is Fun with Food, a class for oral sensory seekers that takes place in the Tot Gym every Monday through Thursday from 10:00 to 10:30 am. This class is for children ages 15 months to three years. Sensory and oral-motor activities are specifically designed to encourage children to try new tastes and textures while making mealtime fun! Art, sensory activities, songs, free play, and snacks are used to help children become independent eaters. You will learn creative strategies to encourage mealtime independence in your child.
Learn Social Skills
Finally, our class Bringing Books to Life is in the Tot Gym every Monday through Thursday from 11:00 to 11:30 am. This class teaches children ages two to five years how to improve their speech and language skills while also having fun with stories! Children are in a supportive environment composed of their peers where they can practice turn taking, eye contact, attention span, and seat behavior. We also work with children to help them achieve individualized goals that help improve receptive language skills, social skills, pragmatics, articulation, and fluency. The methods of guided interactive play can be used at home to help practice age-appropriate language and behaviors.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center is a top therapy center serving families of children and adolescents with disabilities. Our team consists of the leading experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavior sciences. We offer intensive, hands-on therapy for children and adolescents as well as resources for families. We are real therapists helping real families with real issues. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, take a moment to fill out our quick questionnaire. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call 202-561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or 301-577-4333 (Lanham office) or contact us via our website. Want to keep up with our latest news and blog posts? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.