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Sunday 7 December 2008

Between times

Snowy Coastline by Susie Mallett

Blocks and summer camps

I promised in my last posting of November that I would return to this theme and look at some of the problems that arise when such camps come to an end.

I am no fan of summer camps, unless they are an intensive block for children or adults who are regularly attending Conductive Education centres throughout the year. I use a block system for my adults, but the same group of people comes five times a year, with individual sessions between blocks, so we rarely experience the stepping-backwards problem.


All too often these blocks take place in centres that are closed for the summer holidays and during this time offer courses to families from miles around. The conductors are often imported from miles around too, sometimes even from different countries. With this kind of system home visits are virtually impossible and follow-up work isn’t easy either. Often the parents or carers do not work in these groups, so they may have little idea what their children are learning, how they are learning and what the conductors do in order to promote success and development.

Yes, of course the parents usually get an individual consultation towards the end of the block but, in my experience, often without the child present. Sometimes all the parents are invited to watch the group for a day or half-day, usually through a video link, very occasionally live.

Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with any of this but in my opinion ithis is not enough if it is the only input that the family gets in a whole year. The method can work if there are going to be continuous weekly sessions or home visits but, if not, I don’t think a parent or carer will feel confident enough to continue a conductive upbringing at home.

I am not surprised when I hear parents or carers wondering if they are “good enough”, or “doing enough” when they do not see the progress experienced in the summer camp continuing at home The children become disheartened so quickly, they are less motivated than before the camp if they find there are no longer able to do something successfully that they learnt at the camp. The reason that they are not succeeding might be very easy to remedy. For exanple, it could be that a chair is a centimetre higher or lower, or that handles on a cup are at a different angle. Maybe the knife is heavier than the one they learnt to cut with or the small touch necessary to keep balance is missing. Mum or carer may never find the answer to these problems alone but a home visit by the conductor who knows the child well could quickly resolve them, even a cyberspace question-and-answer session might be enough.

I understand when parents feel it is "three steps forwards and two backwards". Conductors also see this, all too often, if a child returns the next summer to a camp.

On the positive side, conductors also often find that children quickly recover the two steps made backwards, especially when some attempt at conductive upbringing has been made at home, and progress then continues with more steps being taken forwards.

There have to be solutions

There are things to do to prevent the backward steps from occuring in the first place. It must be possible to support those parents using cyberspace or offering home visits. More contact must be encouraged between carer/parent and conductor in between the blocks. Maybe something like a help line could be created and a communication network developed, not only between conductor and client but also between clients. Many a time parents have told me the relief they feel on discovering they are not alone, the knowledge that there are other people in the same boat gives them strength.

Cyberspace and the “conductive world” should be able to do a better job of connecting and supporting all these people. I am working in Norway at the moment but there is no reason why I cannot continue to offer support to clients at home during my absence.

I already offer a support service for parents over the internet, I have regular contact with all my clients, I make home visits and offer individual sessions between blocks When a summer camp takes place it is the responsibility of the service-provider, be this a conductor or a centre offering Conductive Education, to provide all the necessary information and support in order for parents or carers to continue conductive upbringing at home.


Previous reference on my blog to summer camps and block work.

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