Waiting for a special event is hard for everyone. Kids are ready for it to happen immediately and parents are thinking of all that needs to be done in preparation. There has to be a way to have some fun during the waiting time. The Latin translation of anticipation is ‘to look forward’. Here are some ideas to help children with all different types of abilities look forward to life events.
Growing a garden is a perfect way to teach children the fun of anticipation. There’s work involved, but still it’s pretty exciting to see a sprout for the first time. Pamela C. Rice’s book, I Grew Grandma's Tomatoes, shares a nice story about anticipation.
In the book, Ben's West Texas Snow, by Callie Metler-Smith, Ben learns a lot from his Pop while he’s waiting to see what west Texas snow looks like. This story is a great example of tasks that have to be completed before something special happens.
Waylen has autism and has minimal communication skills. He knows what he loves to do and is willing to work hard to do it. Waylen’s fun story, Waylen Wants to Jam, shares a true story about how he goes to drumming class to practice in anticipation of doing his favorite activity which is playing on a drumline.
Examples of special activities with shorter waiting times are following a recipe and then eating your treat or packing up for a family outing and then enjoying your time together.
Here are a few strategies to build anticipation:
1. Circle the event date on a calendar and cross off the days until the event. Each day talk about something fun that happened in anticipation of the event.
2. Take a few moments at the beginning of each day to talk about the special event and what is happening that day in preparation. Here’s a fun example.
3. Read a book each day about someone waiting for a special event. Talk about how it might be the same or different from your waiting time.
4. Create an Anticipation Guide (before reading a book) with these instructions.
5. Have your child count out small items (like blocks) to match the number of days until the event. Each day the child removes an item and counts how many remain.
Gradually she or he will count down to the day of the event.
In the book, BJ's Big Dream, by Sonia Cunningham Leverette, BJ is just starting his big event. BJ has waited a long time to grow out his hair. We don’t know about his waiting time, but it would be fun to imagine. How long do you think it took BJ to grow his hair? Reading BJ’s story could encourage your child to set a goal and plan how to have a fun waiting time as it is achieved.
Jo Meserve Mach collaborates with two other woman at their publishing company Finding My Way Books to create books sharing true stories of inclusion. They have published 13 books. She worked as an Occupational Therapist for 36 years and is passionate about the voices of children with disabilities being heard in children’s literature.
Visit Jo Meserve Mach's author page: https://redcloverreader.com/au/jo.mach