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Friday 29 October 2010

Professional falling

"A very professional faller" by Susie Mallett 2010

Last week I wrote an email to the classroom assistant to one of our "Petö" children. She had been unable to come for her weekly visit to our sessions because she had been spending her free hours learning how to use a special computer programme. It is one that we hope will offer assistance to the child in school, to communicate fast during lessons. It will only make communication faster if someone knows how to use it.

I sent the email so the communication continued between us and so that the school stayed up to date with the progress that we have observed in the child who she is with each day in school.

I had written that we have been practising taking three of four steps with no assistance many times in the session rather than trying to walk a longer distance.I suggested that they do this too in school by stepping between the desks or a couple of free steps to the car or to the blackboard.

I also mentioned that we have a wonderful new, blue mat and that this little girl loves to walk on it as it makes her feel so safe. She feels so safe that we have begun practising falling down, which has become quite a passion!

Today I received an answer to that email, here is a part of it:

Today F. was attempting once again to make a few steps alone. I said to her: "I am behind you, there to save you if you fall!" She answered: I can save myself! And after two or three steps she fell down " professionally". In that moment I immediately realised what you had been pratising!

How about that for a snippet of conductive upbringing! This is what our work is all about. We are reaching out to every corner of our children's worlds, using all the skills our children have everywhere, everyday.

What a joy to have such a wonderful team of colleagues, parents, brothers and sisters, people I meet daily, rarely or never, but communicate with over the airwaves. All linked together by the children who play an important part in all our lives.

When I asked the little girl about it all today she told me that she had coined the new conductive phrase: " professional falling", (professionell Hinfallen).


Judit Szathmáry said...

Hi Susie,
I just would like to add the following to this posting.
Independent stepping and walking are never facilitated from behind in conductive pedagogy. Facilitation is always given from the side or from the front, where the facilitator is teaching the child if she looses her balance always fall forward.
If a child let to believe that she is safe because someone is right behind her cuts out her awareness of the danger of falling backwards and hitting her head without being able to save herself when no one is at the back.
Children are taught to fall forward, especially at the beginning of learning to walk independently, and children are also taught to use their hands to save themselves.
Independent stepping is taught with a variety of tasks focusing on different hand positions while walking and also with hand movements in front, at the sides, above and behind to prepare the child to be aware of teir hands and used them accordingly.

Susie Mallett said...

Thank you for taking time to comment, Judit. Your wise words always make a huge difference to my postings.

Yes, want you say is certainly what we try to do in conductive pedagogy, although I try never to use the word never.

We facilitate from the side or from the front when teaching walking whenever possible. Not only when the child begins to step alone but also when walking with the facilitation of sticks and chairs, boxes or stools, ropes or rings.

Through this we teach clients to bring their weight forwards when walking and falling.

A child learning to take first steps, like the little girl at school, or children like the one in the photo who learnt to walk and to fall forwards supporting on his hands years ago, still sometimes fall backwards as can be seen in the photo. Therefore children have to learn what to do in such situations too, so they can roll up in a ball to prevent a bang on the head. We have been practising this too.

The assistant working in the school was shown by the child she was helping that no help was needed from behind. It was demonstrated so well in the professional falling forwards and we will continue teaching and learning how best to facilitate her walking and falling the next time we all meet.

As always the method of falling is as different for each child as it is for every other skill that they learn. The aim for each of them is to learn how they can keep themselves safe without relying on someone else to do this. Very often children just let themselves go because they believe there is someone always behind them. We need to teach them that this is not always the case. Whether the child is sitting, standing or walking they learn how to use their balance and their hands to save themselves. They also learn to be aware that there are not always people there to save them.

Thank you, Judit, so much for adding all the extra bits to this posting.