A Real little boy
“Come and look at this!” shouted Clare...
I raced downstairs and barrelled out of the front door of our holiday cottage in Norfolk. There in our car Arun was sitting in the driver’s seat. He had his seatbelt on and was turning the steering wheel with a big smile on this face.
His sister, Meri, sat in the passenger seat next to him and was giggling away.
“I’m driving Meri to swimming and ballet,” said Arun.
Clare and I looked at each other and laughed, delighted.
It was almost exactly a year ago when we sat down with the head of primary at Arun’s prospective new school that specialised in learning difficulties. She was warm, enthusiastic and optimistic.
“We fully believe that you can teach children to play,” Jennie said.
It sounded like a ridiculous thing to say. Surely all children play – that’s what they do. In fact the problem that most parents have is stopping their children playing long enough to do some real learning.
However, we’ve never had that problem with Arun. At that point he had never played with toys, exercised his imagination or taken turns with a friend. All of these things are essential to learning and develop key skills in children that prepare them for the big, bad grown up world. Playing is a really important part of learning.
The following day on holiday, it was raining and so we decided to take a trip on the North Norfolk railway- an old steam branch line run as a tourist attraction by a bunch of volunteers too old to play with toy trains any more. They had graduated to really big ones.
Arun was delighted. He bounced excitedly in his seat as the steam train pulled out of the station.
“I’m driving the train!” he shouted as he looked out of the window and pretended to steer, push buttons and pull levers.
After the train had arrived back at Sheringham station, we took him to the gift shop. As his sister chose a small red toy steam train, Arun said, “I want a blue one. Want a blue one.”
Another smile and look exchanged between Clare and me. He really has come a long way in a year.
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